Ahmedabad Defenders edged past Bengaluru Torpedoes 15-7, 15-10, 18-20, 13-15, 15-10 to win the Prime Volleyball League season two title at the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium in Kochi on Sunday.
At the start, LM Manoj and Pankaj exchanged points before Danial Moatazedi’s consecutive blocks proved fatal for the Torpedoes. Danial blew a kiss to Angamuthu Ramaswamy, who, after serving, helped with the team’s defence. Bengaluru’s attempt to earn a super point was blocked, after which Danial closed the first set with an ace.
The Defenders acquired an early lead in the second set but were countered within a matter of minutes courtesy their own mistakes. Bengaluru’s Vyshak Renjith, Mujeeb MC and Tsvetelin Tsvetanov took turns to score and equalise at 7-7. The Torpedoes were unable to read Angamuthu’s combination play with Defenders captain Muthusamy Appavu. The ‘angle man’ Angamuthu aimed for a gap near the backline, and succeeded. Torpedoes’ Ibin Jose felt the heat after he made a service error before Angamuthu did what he does best - earn points.
Ahmedabad seemed complacent after winning the first two sets as Bengaluru clinched an effortless 6-0 lead, which included a super serve by TR Sethu. However, the Defenders would not leave without a fight as they reduced the gap to two points. Defenders’ saviour Danial fought back with a bang while Santhosh added his touch to the set. An error by Angamuthu put Bengaluru just one point short of winning the third set. However, Santhosh restored parity for Ahmedabad. Nerves had taken over the teams as they traded off points. Bengaluru’s never say die attitude somehow got it through the third set.
The fourth set was a nip and tuck affair before Danial’s spike in the corner gave the Defenders a two-point lead prior to the technical time-out. A review of L M Manoj’s block against Pankaj proved detrimental for the Defenders as the ball went out. Angamuthu’s wide spike ensured a super point for Bengaluru. He made up for it immediately but Mujeeb’s two consecutive attempts eventually helped Bengaluru come from behind to clinch the fourth set.
A do-or-die set saw Ahmedabad hurry the proceedings, but Mujeeb did it again for Torpedoes. Nandagopal’s yet another service error was neutralised by Danial’s powerful attack. Manoj and Angamuthu’s play saw a review taken with doubts on whether the former’s jersey had touched the net but the decision went in favour of last year’s runner-up. Santhosh’s super serve solidified the Defenders’ position. A referee review ensured that the Defenders earned a match point, and Angamuthu sealed the deal.
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