Qatar shut out Thailand and Türkiye beat Dominican Republic in four
Hosts Qatar will take on Chile in one of Saturday’s Volleyball Challenger Cup men’s semifinals in Doha. In the other, an all-European clash between Türkiye and Ukraine will determine the other finalists. The eventual winner of the tournament will earn the right to compete in Volleyball Nations League 2024.
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In their quarterfinal against Thailand on Friday, Qatar produced a straight-set victory, but their opponents put up quite a battle and each of the sets was resolved by the narrowest of margins with two even going to overtime, 3-0 (26-24, 25-23, 26-24). It was Qatar’s first Challenger Cup win, after they lost their quarterfinal at their rookie appearance in 2022.
Qatar had the lead through most of the first set, with Thailand occasionally taking over. In the money time, the South East Asians managed to jump to a two-point lead at 21-19, but the home side fought back and closed the set on their second set point. With Thailand’s assertive opposite Napadet Bhinijdee continuing to spearhead his team’s attacks, the second set followed pretty much the same storyline. The Thais could not hold on to their 21-19 advantage and Qatar doubled their lead. Thailand even recovered from the 8-1 Qatari run at the start of the third set and were the first to reach set point, but a kill block by Belal Nabel Abunabot crowned a three-point series for the home team and marked the 26-24 match winner.
Bhinijdee was the best scorer of the game with 23 points for Thailand, including two aces, while four Qatari players reached the double digits on the winners’ side: Raimi Wadidie with 16 points (including three aces and a block), Ribeiro Renan with 12, Youssef Oughlaf with 11 and captain Mohamed Ibrahim with 10. While the teams were pretty level on most scoring elements, it was the blocking that gave Qatar the key advantage with seven stuffs against three.
“It was really exciting! To have all these people, the kids and the families around is amazing!” Mohamed Ibrahim said after the match. “We haven’t had this kind of competition here in Doha in a long…