Kerala Killers put its Indian Volley League campaign back on track with a straight-set victory over Chennai Spikers at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium here on Wednesday.
Outplayed by its opponent for large parts of the game, Chennai appeared a shadow of the side that had breezed past Maratha Warriors only the previous day. K.P. Shameem and G.R. Vaishnav again stood out with their blocking, as Kerala achieved the 25-21, 25-23, 25-18 result in an hour and seven minutes.
If the manner of the win surprised the majority, Kerala coach K. Abdul Nazer clearly did not belong to it.
“I fully expected it,” he said. “We watched Chennai's game yesterday and made specific plans. Everything was a success.”
Nazer attributed his side's thorough defeat at the hands of Yanam Tigers on Tuesday to fatigue. “Our first two matches were both five-setters. The players were naturally tired.”
Chennai remained only a point or two behind for most of the opening set, but stumbled at 19-20. Shaheem arrived from the back row with a tremendous spike down the right hand-side of the court, while the pair of Jinson Varghese and Shamji Thomas pulled off two successive blocks as Kerala ran away 25-21 winners.
Kerala setter V. Manu displayed fine vision, switching play quickly from one side of the court to another as Naveen Raja Jacob and Shameem swooped to exploit the narrowest gaps.
The former may have been guilty of mis-controlling his shots at times, but showed he had lost none of the power he had exhibited earlier in the tournament.
In an attempt to turn things around in the second set, Chennai coach A. Venkatesan introduced seemingly-out-of-favour captain J. Nadarajan, and universal P. Sivabalan.
The tinkering made some, but not substantial, difference as Kerala took the set 25-23.
S. Prabakaran and Mandeep Singh led Chennai's attacks, but met with unyielding resistance across the net.
Shameem and Vaishnav remained flawless with their blocking into the final set, and it was only fitting that the latter finished things off with a resounding smash down-court.
The results: Yanam Tigers bt Hyderabad Chargers 20-25, 25-19, 25-21, 25-22; Kerala Killers bt Chennai Spikers 25-21, 25-23, 25-18.
Maratha Warriors bt Karnataka Bulls 17-25, 25-23, 26-24, 25-23.
Thursday's schedule: Hyderabad Chargers vs Maratha Warriors, 3:30 p.m., Chennai Spikers vs Yanam Tigers, 5 p.m., Kerala Killers vs Karnataka Bulls, 6:30 p.m.
Keywords: Indian Volley League