Chennai Spartans registered their first win of the season defeating Black Hawks Hyderabad (15-12, 15-12, 15-11, 15-10, 13-15) in Kochi on Thursday.
Naveen Raja Jacob was the star of the show for Chennai as he amassed 16 points (12 spikes and 4 serve points). For Hyderabad, it was skipper Carson Clark who led from the front with 12 points (11 spikes and 1 block).
At 8-2, Black Hawks Hyderabad looked set to take home the first set. Post the first Technical Time Out, Chennai found their feet as they levelled up at 10-all thanks to a handful of errors from Black Hawks and conversion of Super Point with a brilliant serve by skipper Shelton Moses. At 11-10, Black Hawks called for a Super Point but a fault on the serve by Prashant P handed a one-point lead to Chennai. From there, Chennai settled the matter in their favour at 15-12.
Riding on the high of winning the first set, Chennai raced into a 5-1 lead as Jacob, G S Akhin, and Rudy Verhoeff spiked their way through the Hyderabad defence. At TTO, Chennai was leading 8-4 and immediately called for a Super Point but Ashwal Rai’s spike helped Hyderabad break Chennai’s serve and win the Super Point.
Hyderabad called for a Super Point at 8-10 and it was Alex Bader who intercepted Chennai’s weak receiving with an inch-perfect spike to level the scores at 10-all. But exactly as it happened in the first set, Chennai got five points compared to Hyderabad’s two to win the second set 15-12.
For Hyderabad, the third set was crucial to stay alive. But Jacob took the matters in his hands from there scoring six points by himself. At 10-9, Hyderabad called for a Super Point and lost it to a spike from Jacob. He followed it up with a Super Serve and another serve point to kill the momentum that Hyderabad tried to gather. Expectedly, Chennai won the third set 15-11 to take an unassailable 3-0 lead in the match.
In no time, the Spartans went up 8-4 in the penultimate set. Hyderabad broke Chennai on their Super Point to reduce the gap to 6-8. Soon after, Hyderabad called for their Super Point at 7-9 and a bad serve into the net by Muthusamy Appavu pulled them down further.
Chennai did not waste much time before closing the set 15-10. At 4-0, they sensed that they could register the first whitewash of the league. At 8-5, it seemed a genuine possibility but Hyderabad was somehow hanging in the set.
They called for a Super Point at 9-8 and it was Sorokins who won it for the Spartans with a spike. Chennai immediately called for the Super Point at 10-9 and gave away the point to Hyderabad as the score stood 11-10 in favour of Hyderabad. Hyderabad did not allow this lead to slip and ended the set in their favour at 15-13, winning the only set out of the five.
Kochi Blue Spikers will take on Black Hawks Hyderabad on February 8.