Qatar ended their ANOC World Beach Games campaign with a valiant silver medal in 4x4 volleyball Wednesday.
At the Katara Cultural Village, the hosts went down fighting to the United States 2-0 (18-21, 24-26). It was a golden double for the USA as their women also won gold defeating Brazil 2-0 (21-16, 21-9).
Once again it was Cherif Younousse who excelled for the hosts, but this time his side just fell short. With his superb performance in front of the cheering home crowd he scored 23 points, including 18 off the attack.
Saif Elmajid scored 10 points and Ziad Benlouaer had two of the seven blocks that Qatar had in the match.
The first set was tight, but two huge blocks in a row pushed the Americans firmly in front, and they won 21-18.
US men's and women's teams celebrate after winning doubles in volleyball
After losing the first set, a sensational double recovery gave Qatar the chance to go 15-14 up in the second and they took it to make it 21-all. Later, the hosts saved four match points in a row, but small errors undid them.
“It was a great final. We played superbly but our best was not enough. Though we had beaten the Americans in the pool play, they have changed their tactics and roster. Now they were more balanced than before. If we had taken the second set, anything could have happened,” Qatar coach Mariano Baracetti said.
“We tried our best within our limited resources. I feel the silver medal is still a creditable finish for us. We’ll try to build more strongly on this. Also I hope the FIVB would try to develop this format further in future as this has a good potential to grow,” he said.
The Qatar team had only three weeks of preparation before the event, and Younousse’s regular partner on the World beach tour, Ahmed Tijan, also had to sit out the competition as he was recovering from a knee injury.
“We felt the loss of Tijan throughout the tournament, but it was hurting in the final. We did not have matching bench strength as the Americans had. Still we played a superb game and tried to stretch them as much as we could,” Qatar’s defender Denis Messelmani said.
“We’re the number one team in the world right now, so we’re accepting challenges, all around the world,” USA’s Casey Patterson said.
“Each of us found our role. Tonight we decided to just ride out that line-up until we needed to switch. Nothing ever happened, everyone was in the zone, so as a veteran I knew that that was more important than playing time. So we tried to keep that flow going, keep the guys comfortable and getting better and better.”
The men’s bronze was claimed by Indonesia, who secured a hard-earned 2-1 (21-13, 19-21, 15-11) win over Poland.
“This is Indonesia’s first medal of the Games. We only have three teams here and volleyball is the junior team. Our target was top four, so to win the bronze medal was beyond our expectation. This team consists of some very young talent and for everyone this is their very first time in an international event. So after this we will make sure we train harder, we will be more motivated,” said Indonesia’s star player Rendy Licardo.
Earlier in the day, the women’s bronze-medal was clinched by Canada, who secured a 17-21, 21-15, 16-14 win over Australia.