Kochi Blue Spikers edged the resilient Ahmedabad Defenders 3-2 (10-15, 15-11, 11-15,15-12, 15-12) in a Pro Volleyball League encounter in Kochi on Wednesday.
For Kochi, it was Olympic gold medallist David Lee who scored 10 points (7 spikes, 2 blocks and 1 serve point). On the other hand, it was Victor Sysoev who was the stand-out performer for Ahmedabad Defenders with 13 points (11 spikes and 2 blocks) to his name.
Ahmedabad started the first set with a flurry of points with Gurinder Singh hitting three spikes and one block to give his team a 4-0 lead. Riding on the momentum, Ahmedabad called for a Super Point at 5-1 and converted the same in style as Mandeep Singh landed a Super Serve to increase the lead to 7-1.
After trailing at 3-8 at the Technical Time Out, Kochi came out with fire in their belly clinching two consecutive points. Rightly they called for a Super Point but lost the conversion opportunity owing to a block by Sysoev. Kochi looked as if they will stage a comeback as the lead was narrowed down to 13-10 but Ahmedabad made sure that didn’t happen and closed the set 15-10.
The second set looked more of a competition as both teams were matching each other move after move. At seven-all, Kochi called for a Super Point and won it going into the TTO at 9-7. Kochi continued with their attacking game, as David Lee and Andrej Patuc with combined points from spike and serve, helped the hosts increase their lead to 14-11. Manu Joseph added the finishing touch with a spike, as Kochi won the set 15-11.
Kochi continued from where they left in the last set as they raced to a 5-2 lead with Lee, Patuc and Joseph again the architects of the lead. Ahmedabad showed resilience and levelled the score at 7-7 but an error at the net by Novica Bjelica gave Kochi a point advantage at TTO. Post TTO, it was a hard-fought battle till 11-all before Kochi called for a Super Point and Ahmedabad broke their serve to gain the advantage.
Sensing an opening, Ahmedabad called for a Super Point and Sysoev’s well timed block helped his team win the set 15-11 and a 2-1 advantage in the match. In the fourth set, Ahmedabad really looked positive and went into an 8-4 lead. At 8-4, Ahmedabad called for a Super Point and missed the opportunity. Immediately, Kochi called for a Super Point and converted to level the score at 8-all. Till the very end, it looked like anyone’s set before two consecutive points by Kochi at 13-12 helped them close the set and the match went into a decider.
In the decider, Kochi looked like running away with the match as they established a 6-1 lead with the help of one super serve and a serve point by Ukkrapandian. Ahmedabad, with their never-say-die attitude staged a comeback and reduced the deficit to 7-8. Kochi, who seemed like losing steam, now took the initiative in their hands and a Super Serve by K Praveen Kumar gave his team a four-point lead at 11-7.
Kochi wanting to end the game in a hurry called for a Super Point, but lost the opportunity. The set was heading towards a nail-biting finish with the score at 11-10 in favour of Kochi. In the end, Kochi held on to their nerves as an error on serve by Ranjit Singh gave Kochi the set 15-12 and the match 3-2.
Chennai Spartans will take on Black Hawks Hyderabad on February 7.