Bahrain finishes perfect run through boys tourney
November 7, 2015
AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy – Bahrain came into the DODDS-Europe boys volleyball championship not knowing any of its opponents. But the Falcons left knowing they are the 2015 champions.
“We come in blind every year,” Bahrain coach George Wells said. “It’s kind of rough for us.”
But the Falcons’ competition had it rougher, as Bahrain swept every match, including the championship Saturday against Marymount International, 25-23, 25-19, 25-22.
“I felt our team was very strong and competitive,” Wells said. “To be able to go through and not lose one set – not one set – through the whole tournament, is pretty amazing.”
The Falcons faced five teams, including the Royals twice. Most of them played each other during the course of the regular season. But the Falcons just play a few local clubs.
Wells went into the championship match with his plan of attack, to stay on the attack, unchanged.
“We had a set offense that we had working throughout the tournament,” Wells said. “I felt if we could generate more offense than the other team, we could prevail.”
And that was the case, as the Falcons senior and captain Anas Abed put away 17 kills and assisted teammates seven times to push Bahrain ahead during the match.
“He’s a well-rounded player and he plays smart,” Wells said of Abed’s mental attitude, athletic abilities and intelligence.
Heading into the championship, Marymount’s coach realized he had to adjust his game plan and account for Bahrain’s heavy hitters, to include Fadi Aghim, who accounted for eight kills.
“I changed the defense by putting my stronger blockers up front,” Royals coach Gilberto Gangarossa said. “I put Lotanna (Mba) in front of 13 (Abed) and 9 (Aghim).
The switch sparked an improvement from the pool play game; Mba blunted the Falcons’ offense with nine blocks, three of them for points.
“We played even better than the first game,” Gangarossa said of the second match.
But it wasn’t enough to beat out Bahrain.
“I think their skill is very high and it showed on the court,” Gangarossa said. “Abed was a very good spiker and can put the ball wherever he wants and Aghim was very efficient.”
Marymount captain Giovanni Acampora had six kills, four blocks with one for a point to help keep the Royals close.
“He was very consistent and cool headed the whole time,” Abed said.
Bahrain finished the night winning all 14 sets played during the tournament.
“We just took it one set at a time and that’s what I told them, that’s all we can do,” Wells said. “We always tried to do our best.”
Naples faced off with Incirlik for third place and claimed victory over the Hodjas, 27-25, 25-19.