The Defenders twice came from behind to stun the hosts.
Much to the dismay of the home crowd at the Koramangala Indoor Stadium in Bengaluru, the Ahmedabad Defenders picked up their first win of the Prime Volleyball League 2023 season on Thursday, defeating the Bengaluru Torpedoes 14-15, 15-10, 14-15, 15-10, 15-10. While the middle blockers Mujeeb and Srajan U Shetty performed well for the Torpedoes, head coach David Lee’s side made too many unforced errors on the night, costing themselves the match in the process.
The moment the hooter rang, it looked like the game was going to be about Bengaluru’s middle against Ahmedabad’s outside hitters, as Santhosh opened the scoring for the Defenders. But twin blocks from Tsvetelin Tsvetanov and skipper Pankaj Sharma turned the tide in Bengaluru’s favour. Having a veteran middle-blocker David Lee as Head Coach clearly inspired the hosts in the right way, as Mujeeb made picture-perfect blocks to get his team ahead.
The Torpedoes had made 17 unforced errors in their previous game, including 10 serve errors, and a similar trend continued on the night, as Ibin Jose continued to make multiple faulty serves to allow Ahmedabad breathing room.
Whenever Bengaluru got their serve right, the gameplay involved middle-blockers and Srajan U Shetty, and Mujeeb kept delivering the goods, helping them win the first set. But Angamuthu shifted gears in the second set with powerful smashes. Danial Moatazedi’s spike and skipper Muthusamy Appavu’s block helped Ahmedabad win the second set to level the game.
Ahmedabad started involving Danial as the playmaker in the middle and their aggressive display built pressure on the home side. Suddenly, Bengaluru’s middle blockers stopped proving quite effective. But Tsvetanov made Bengaluru’s first super serve of the season, along with two massive spikes to help Bengaluru win the third set.
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The game turned into Danial vs Tsvetanov in the later stages as the Bulgarian kept sending fiery smashes, and the Iranian kept blocking them like a bullet-proof jacket.
A super serve from Santhosh put a damper on Bengaluru’s hopes of closing out the game in the fourth set and with a thunderous spike, Santhosh closed the set in favour of Ahmedabad Defenders, pushing the match to the final set.
Tsvetanov’s block gave the Torpedoes a crucial point in the final set. Bengaluru returned to basics as Srajan, with a solid spike, gave the home side an early lead. But the home side continued to make unforced errors and the Defenders took lead. Back-to-back faulty serves from Nandagopal and Danial brought things back to level pegging. Late heroics from Manoj completely shifted the tide in the Defenders’ favour, and Angamuthu delivered the final spike to win the match for Ahmedabad.
Chennai Blitz will be up against Mumbai Meteors at the Koramangala Indoor Stadium in the seventh match of the Prime Volleyball League in Bengaluru at 1900 hrs IST on Friday, 10th February 2023.
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