Maratha Warriors won the Bangalore leg of the Indian Volley League after defeating Hyderabad Chargers in four sets at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium here on Thursday.
The 26-24, 19-25, 25-18, 26-24 result helped the former drive its points tally up to nine, with Chennai Spikers eventually finishing second. Warriors' position was later cemented after Yanam spurned its chance to go top, losing 25-17, 24-26, 25-23, 25-17 to Chennai and thereby slipping to third.
Chennai appeared to have recovered sufficiently from Wednesday's listless loss to Kerala Killers, striking Yanam in dramatic fashion in the opening and closing sets. Coach A. Venkatesan attributed his side's wildly fluctuating form to the nature of the tournament.
“You can't expect players to be good every day when there are back-to-back games,” he said. “Today they were great. The aim is to do well in the league as a whole.”
Although the side's blocking was far from perfect on the day, Yanam's shortcomings in the same department meant Chennai managed to inflict its own blows with little trouble. While Kapil Dev, S. Prabakaran and Mandeep Singh again shone, K. Karthikeyan, who replaced K.G. Rakesh in the second set, too made a substantial contribution. “We travel to Chennai next,” Venkatesan said. “I'm sure we'll do better.”
Prabakaran began in his customary vein, sending down a series of spikes after getting on the end of Kapil Dev's passes, as Chennai moved rapidly ahead in the first set. Yanam struggled with its link-up play, and even replaced setter Ranjit Singh with M. Tulasi Reddy, but it did little to stop the opponent.
Chennai won the set 25-17, but soon found itself plodding in the second after some patchy blocking. Yanam trailed 23-24, but clinched the set in dramatic circumstances.
An allegedly controversial call by the second referee handed Yanam one point, with a second following immediately when Kapil Dev was yellow carded for dissent. A shocked Chennai conceded a further point, losing the set 26-24.
Any implosions were, however, averted as Chennai held on to narrowly take the third set 25-23, with both sides guilty of conceding soft points.
A visibly tired Yanam offered little resistance thereafter as Chennai trampled all over, sailing to victory.
The results: Maratha Warriors bt Hyderabad Chargers 26-24, 19-25, 25-18, 26-24; Chennai Spikers bt Yanam Tigers 25-17, 24-26, 25-23, 25-17; Karnataka Bulls bt Kerala Killers 25-20, 25-21, 25-23.
Special Awards: Best attacker: S. Prabakaran (Chennai Spikers); Best setter: Balvinder Singh (Maratha Warriors); Best blocker: Lavmeet Katariya (Hyderabad Chargers); Best universal: Tom Joseph (Yanam Tigers); Best libero: Kiran Philip (Kerala Killers).
Keywords: Indian Volley League