Hosts Kochi Blue Spikers beat Black Hawks Hyderabad 3-2 to notch up a hat-trick of wins in the inaugural season of the Pro Volleyball League on Friday.
The Kochi side won 12-15, 15-11, 15-12, 15-10, 14-15.
David Lee showed his class for Kochi as he scored 12 points (7 spikes and 5 blocks). Ashwal Rai was the leading scorer for Hyderabad as he overshadowed his illustrious team-mate Carson Clark by scoring 15 points (11 spikes and 4 blocks).
Rai put up an all-round performance and topped the list of players with the highest number of block points (10 points) from three matches.
The two teams were going toe-to-toe for each point in the first set. Hyderabad, with the help of four spike points by captain Clark entered the first Technical Time Out with a point lead at 8-7. They looked a rejuvenated unit when they called for a Super Point (two points at one go for the winners of a rally or two points to the opponents otherwise) at 10-9 and converted the same owing to a fault by Lee at the net. For Hyderabad, Rai was in good form scoring five points in the set as Hyderabad wrapped up the opener 15-12.
Kochi found their groove in the second set as they raced to an 8-5 lead at the TTO. At 10-6, Kochi looked like running away with the set but Alex Bader had other ideas and with deft touch at the net and a spike reduced the difference to two points.
Rai again came to the party and helped Hyderabad take a one-point lead with a spike and a block. Hyderabad called for a Super Point and Lee broke their serve to give Kochi the advantage. Kochi then converted their Super Point. At 14-11, Prabagaran S closed the set for Kochi to level the match at 1-1.
Third set wasn’t dominated by any team as much. At 7-7, a spike by Suresh Khoiwal gave Kochi the much-needed lead going into the TTO. Kochi took two quick points but Rai levelled it with a spike and block at 10-10. At 11-10, Super Point was called by Kochi and a rock-solid block by Lee ensured that they win the point. Kochi held their nerve and won the set 15-12 to lead 2-1 in the match.
The penultimate set was closely fought as well, at 10-8 when Kochi called for a Super Point and converted the same with a spike by Manu Joseph shifting the match in favour of Kochi at 12-8. Kochi didn’t let the lead slip from their hands and closed the set 15-10 with a block from Prabagaran leading 3-1 in the match. Hyderabad edged the final set 15-14.
Kochi Blue Spikers will take on Calicut Heroes on 9 February.
Player of the match: David Lee
Final Score: Kochi Blue Spikers beat Black Hawks Hyderabad - 12-15, 15-11, 15-12, 15-10, 14-15