Pro Volleyball League: Kochi Blue Spikers too strong for U Mumba Volley

It beat U Mumba Volley by four sets to one, dropping just the final set.

Mohan Ukkrapandian sets up P. Rohith, the spiker in Kochi Blue Spikers' ranks.   -  SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Dancing laser lights, a bright stage and loud music between points… the ambience was awesome. Indoor volleyball has never had it so good in the country and on Saturday night, the sport had a glamorous new look as the Pro Volleyball League made its debut at the Rajiv Gandhi indoor stadium here.

Virtually half the stadium was in the blue colours of the home side, the Kochi Blue Spikers. And the home boys did not disappoint as they brushed U Mumba Volley 15-11, 15-13, 15-8, 15-10, 5-15 after taking a winning 3-0 lead in the league opener. The small disappointment was that it did not get the bonus point as it lost the last set.

The Blue Spikers had a big name in the 2008 Olympic champion, American David Lee but sharing the stage, rising nicely and smashing strongly was Manu Joseph, the 29-year-old from Kerala. While David, who came up with some impressive serves and blocks in the opening set which troubled Mumba all through, Manu consistently produced smashes which either went through the opponent’s two-man block or kissed the sides of the jumping wall.

The Blue Spikers’ skipper Mohan Ukkrapandian, the Indian setter, played his part perfectly. Apart from his smart lifts which spread confidence all around, he often surprised Mumba with his drops.

And the man for the super point was S. Prabagaran. Though he was not in the fiery form that one often sees him in, twice, in the first and third sets, the seasoned India attacker got the double points which made life easy for the home side.

U Mumba was level at 10 at one stage in the second set but the team did not look a settled combo. The first pass was an issue for a major part of the match and that affected the team’s rhythm. The visitor’s two foreigners, Tomislav Coskovic and Nicholas Bianco, played well in parts but against a strong Blue Spikers that was not enough.

“The first match is always a tough one and we are happy that we won this. The setting was good, it gave us confidence but some of the lights affected our play a bit,” said Ukkrapandian.

The result: Kochi Blue Spikers bt U Mumba Volley 15-11, 15-13, 15-8, 15-10, 5-15.