Pro Volleyball League saw Black Hawks Hyderabad overcome Ahmedabad Defenders 3-2 (15-11, 13-15, 15-11, 14-15, 15-9) in a keenly-contested encounter at Rajiv Gandhi Indoor Stadium.
Skipper Carson Clark led from the front with 15 points (12 spikes, 1 block and 2 serves) in his side’s victory. For Ahmedabad, Russia’s Victor Sysoev scored 12 points (11 spikes and 1 block).
Hyderabad won the toss and decided to receive and broke Ahmedabad’s serve pretty easily. But both sides looked rusty gifting points on errors. Though at the first Technical Time Out (TTO) Hyderabad took a two-point lead as the scoreboard read 8-6. Sensing the occasion, coming back after the TTO, Hyderabad called for a Super Point but wasted the opportunity and Ahmedabad got the two points via Novika Bjelica’s spike levelling the score at 8-8.
A Super Serve from Dilip Koiwal gave Ahmedabad an 11-10 lead and to press the advantage, the immediately called for a Super Point but an error from Koiwal gave the lead back to Hyderabad. Hyderabad wasn’t going to let this lead slip as Alex Bader came up with a Super Serve to take his team to a 14-11 lead. Ahmedabad skipper’s Ranjit Singh’s error then gave away Hyderabad the first set 15-11.
Ahmedabad changed gears in the second set racing to a 6-2 lead. For Hyderabad, Rohit Kumar and skipper Clark pulled things back to close the gap at 6-8. Looking to level scores, Hyderabad called for a Super Point but lost the same as the trailed by four points at 6-10. Ahmedabad was generous to return the favour as they too called for a Super Point and gave away two points to bring down their lead to two points again at 10-8. Ahmedabad maintained a 2-point lead until 13-11 and then feisty Hyderabad made a comeback with spikes from Clark and Kumar to level the score at 13-13. But Ahmedabad had other ideas as India international GR Vaishnav made a spike and Muthusamy Appavu’s error gave the second set to Ahmedabad at 15-13.
The see-saw battle saw Hyderabad racing to 8-2 lead at the TTO of the third set. After the TTO, Hyderabad continued to attack going up to 11-3 before wasting their Super Point giving Ahmedabad a glimmer of hope at 5-11. Ahmedabad picked up some momentum. Victor Sysoev and Gagandeep Singh led Ahmedabad’s fight-back with one crucial block and two spikes respectively to climb up to 10-13. Ashwal Rai came to the party as his two booming spikes closed the set for Hyderabad at 15-11.
The fourth set saw both the sides not giving an inch to the other. At TTO, Ahmedabad took a two-point lead at 8-6. Soon after Ahmedabad took five points to Hyderabad’s one as they led 12-7. Hyderabad clawed back to 11-12 and then it was anyone’s set. But at 14-14, Sayyad Mubarak Ali kept the match alive for Ahmedabad with a spike making it two sets all.
In the decider, Hyderabad came out all guns blazing as captain Clark, Amit Kumar and Rohit Kumar came to the fore. Beaming with confidence Hyderabad called for a Super Point at 10-4 and Clark’s serve did the job as they won their first Super Point of the match taking the score to 12-4. Ahmedabad attempted a comeback as they scored three consecutive points from 6-13 to reduce the lead to 9-13. But it was the young Rohit again whose spike broke Ahmedabad’s momentum and Hyderabad eventually closed the set 15-9 and the match 3-2.