The Kochi Blue Spikers maintained their unbeaten run in the RuPay Pro Volleyball League 2019 as they registered a 3-2 victory over the Black Hawks Hyderabad at the Rajiv Gandhi Indoor Stadium in Kochi, Kerala.
The Blue Spikers did well to claim a win from behind as they overcame an opening set deficit. They won the match 12-15, 15-11, 15-12, 15-10, 14-15, with David Lee and Prabhagaran scoring 12 points each for the Blue Spikers. Ashwal Rai was in fine form for the Black Hawks with 15 points.
The opening set started off on a positive note for the Black Hawks Hyderabad as they drove home with the early advantage with a 7-4 lead. Two spikes from Prabhagaran and a moment of brilliance from Andrej Patuc drew scores level at 7-7, as the two teams fought tooth and nail to clinch a win in the opening set.
Just as things seemed to heat up, David Lee's unsuccessful block earned the Black Hawks two important points on the Super Point which put them on a 12-9 lead. The Black Hawks continued their top form and won the opening set 15-12.
The Blue Spikers put up a much-improved show in the second set as they cruised to a 5-2 lead before David Lee and Prabhagaran, two of Kochi's best performers in the opening set, combined to increase the lead to 9-5. Just as it seemed like Kochi were soon to inflict a big set-victory on the Black Hawks, Alexander Bader and Ashwal Rai picked up two points apiece as the Black Hawks surfaced in the nick of time to level scores at 10-10.
However, the duo's efforts went in vain as the Blue Spikers converted both the Super Points on offer and raced away to a 14-11 lead. Prabhagaran's thunderous spike sealed a 15-11 set win for his side.
With one set win each, the two teams came into the third set with a desperate need to claim the advantage. An error from Manu Joseph and a top effort from the Black Hawks' attackers gave them an important 3-1 start. The advantage was soon quelled by a combination from Manu Joseph and Suresh Khoiwal as the duo notched up two points each and equalized the scores on 5-5.
The Blue Spikers snatched back a two-point lead at 10-8 only to lose it, courtesy of Ashwal Rai's brilliance, which levelled scores at 10-10. David Lee's block on a Super Point gave the Blue Spikers a much-needed 13-10 lead as they held on to the lead and claimed the set 15-12.
A set down and in need of a win to stay alive in the contest, the Black Hawks failed to start strong in the fourth set as they faced a two-point deficit with the Blue Spikers taking a 6-4 lead. The two teams then went blow to blow as Kochi maintained their two-point upper hand all the way until the scores read 9-7.
Manu Joseph's spike on the Super Point broke the trend as Kochi raced away to a four-point lead which seemed to cut the wings of the Black Hawks as they failed to challenge the lead that gave Kochi a 15-10 win and more importantly, a 3-1 unassailable lead in the match.
With the game in the bag for the Blue Spikers, the final set played host to some thrilling action as the lead shifted sides like a pendulum. The Blue Spikers took an early 4-3 lead which was soon neutralized by the Black Hawks' 8-7 lead.
The two teams then fought hard as the score read 10-10, before a couple of errors from the Spikers handed the Black Hawks a 12-10 lead, only to be nullified by a Sujoy Datta spike on a Super Point. With the set going all the way till the final point, the Black Hawks held their nerve to seal a 15-14 nail-biting final set victory.
Impact Player - David Lee (Kochi Blue Spikers)
The presence of David Lee proved to be a huge boost for the Blue Spikers as he notched up 12 points to exhibit an all-round show to contribute in both attack and blocking departments. With 7 spike points and 5 block points, Lee was on top of his game, which had a direct impact on the outcome of the match.
The Blue Spikers will step on to the court once again tomorrow to face off against the Calicut Heroes, while the Black Hawks Hyderabad will battle it out with the Heroes on the 10th of February, 2019.