Ahmedabad Defenders warded off a spirited challenge from Hyderabad Black Hawks with a 15-13, 15-12, 9-15, 15-12 win to enter the final of the Rupay Prime Volleyball League championship at GMC Balayogi Stadium (Gachibowli) here on Thursday.
It was a class act from 'player of the match' Shon T. John in the first which saw the Defenders break away after the scores were level quite a few times till eight-all. His awesome spiking prowess was a treat to watch.
Defenders led 10-8 when S.V. Guru Prasanth spike fetched Hawks the first super point to level the scores. However, Shon was back in the thick of it again, clinching the second super point for Defenders at 11-all.
In crunch time it was the substitute Hardeep who scored a crucial point with Defenders leading 14-13 to ensure his team won the first set.
In the second set, even as there was nothing much to rave about its blocking and star player Angamuthu not able to come up with his trademark spikes, Defenders struggled till midway in the face of a brilliant attack by Guru Prasanth.
AS IT HAPPENED: Prime Volleyball PVL 2022 Semifinal 1 Highlights
At 10-9, Defenders won the first super point thanks to Angamuthu finding his power and then Manoj came up with a superblock to help the team lead 13-11. Like in the second set, it was Hardeep’s composure at the net that helped Defenders clinch the vital point at 14-12 and the set. Libero S. Prabhakaran was superb too.
In the third set, Hawks dominated completely thanks to the brilliance of Guru Prasanth who was just unstoppable, repeatedly picking gaps in the rival defence with captain Vipul Kumar equally efficient as setter. Guru single-handedly helped the team win the set and take the issue into the fourth set.
Hawks looked a different side in the fourth set too thanks to George Antony joining Guru with some impressive smashes at the start. But, the star for the home team was Amit Gulia who gave Hawks a chance to be back after trailing 9-14 winning three points in a row with his power and placement. Then, came the crucial error from Guru whose cross-court spike went out to give Defenders 14-12 lead. And, finally, Angamuthu produced the finishing touch, rolling the ball past the Hawks defence to trigger celebrations in Defenders camp.
The result: Ahmedabad Defenders bt Hyderabad Black Hawks 15-13, 15-12, 9-15, 15-12.
Friday’s match: 2nd semifinal - Kolkata Thunderbolts vs Calicut Heroes - 7 pm.
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