Dar Kulaib capture thrilling finals opener
TDT | Manama
The Daily Tribune – www.newsofbahrain.com
Dar Kulaib took a high-intensity game one last night in their championship series against Al Najma for the 2022/2023 title in the Isa bin Rashid Bahrain Volleyball League.
Dar Kulaib battled past their rivals 3-1 (25-21, 25-22, 25-27, 25- 20) to gain the early 1-0 advantage in the best-of-three finals.
The victors are playing to secure only their third title in the history of the league and will be hoping to close out this matchup in game two, scheduled for Tuesday next week.
But Najma are a resilient team—one that has been top for a majority of the season—and will be looking to force a decisive third game, which would be held on April 12, if needed.
Najma are aiming for their sixth league championship. Three of their previous crowns came when they were known as Al Wehda Club.
Attending last night’s finals opener were Bahrain Olympic Committee vice-president His Highness Shaikh Isa bin Ali bin Khalifa Al Khalifa and Bahrain Volleyball Association (BVA) president Shaikh Ali bin Mohammed Al Khalifa.
Fans of both clubs packed Isa bin Rashid Arena at the BVA headquarters at Isa Sports City in Riffa, making for a rocking atmosphere all through the contest.
In the opening set, Dar Kulaib were first to 10 points and backto-back Mohammed Yaqoob spikes gave them a 14-9 advantage.
Najma were able to fight back to within 15-17, but then Argentinian professional Juan Barrera scored to give Dar Kulaib back a three-point cushion.
A brilliant dig from Ali Habib gave the victors a 21-17 advantage, and then another Barrera smash later closed out the first set.
In the second, Najma took a quick 4-1 edge but Dar Kulaib eventually tied it at 11-all. Things remained close and a Yaqoob spike gave Dar Kulaib a 21-19 advantage.
A pair of errors from Najma proved costly, allowing Dar Kulaib to move to two points from securing the set, and they made the most of the opportunity with attacks from Habib and Abdulwahed.
In the third set, Najma were determined to get back into the match and three straight points helped them go up 19-13.
But Dar Kulaib roared back and successive points from Yaqoob, plus a double-block with returning Ayman Isa, helped them tie it at 23-all.
But Najma would eventually prevail, aided by a Yaqoob service error and a fine spike from Estonian professional Kevin Saar to break the 25-25 deadlock and make it 1-2 in the match.
In set four, Dar Kulaib were in control from the start and went ahead 16-12.
Najma tried valiantly to stay within striking distance behind strong play from Ali Ebrahim and Fadhel Abbas, but Dar Kulaib had all the answers, and a Barrera spike finally ended the match, which ran for over two hours.
Meanwhile, set to be held tonight will be the game for third place between losing semi-finalists Al Ahli and Muharraq.