American star Taylor Sander has joined Qatari club Al-Arabi for the team’s home-stretch of the 2016-2017 season, including the Qatar Cup where Al-Arabi plays in the semi-finals on Saturday.
Sander spent most of the season playing with Beijing Volleyball of the Chinese League, where he advanced to the league final. There, his team fell victim to the Shanghai dynasty, who have won the last 3 and 12 out of the last 14 titles.
With the Chinese season ending earlier than most of the European and Asian leagues, however, that frees Sander up to swap teams and continue playing this season, and that’s what he’s done.
Sander was a part off the United States’ bronze-medal winning team at the 2016 Olympic Games, and before that played on their winning teams in the 2015 World Cup and 2014 World League.
At 25-years old, Sander is now on his 3rd professional team. After completing his collegiate career with BYU in 2014, he signed with BluVolley Verona in Italy, where he played from 2014-2016. Now, after one season with Beijing, he’s moved on to Qatar.
Individually, Sander was named the best outside hitter and MVP of the 2014 FIVB World League. During his amateur career at BYU, he finished #1 in the rally-scoring era in career kills, attempts, and aces. That includes once putting up 9 aces in a single game.
Al-Arabi is the most decorated club in Qatari history, having won 25 total league titles. This season, however, they finished just 3rd behind Police SC and El Jaish, meaning that they’ve now just won 1 league title in the last 5 seasons.
Sander will now play on the Al-Arabi front-line alongside opposite Gyorgy Grozer – the 5-time German National Player of the Year. The winner earns the right to play Al Rayyan, who beat police 3-2 in the other semi-final, for the cup.