Karnataka Bulls slumped to a three-set defeat at the hands of Yanam Tigers on the opening day of the Indian Volley League here.
Riding on fine performances by Ranjit Singh, John Christopher and Tom Joseph, Yanam marched to a 26-24, 25-18, 25-22 win, silencing a partisan Sunday crowd at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium. Sanjay Kumar waged a lone battle for the home side, but his desperate efforts proved inadequate on the night.
Y. Subba Rao was used sparingly, but the veteran, easily the tallest player on either side, helped Yanam to an early lead with his work at the net. A. Vikram shone for Karnataka in the early stages, winning points with his runs on the left side, but his team remained a point or two behind for the most part.
There appeared a flicker of hope for the host when Christopher's service into the net saw it draw level on 22-22. The sides traded points, reaching 24-24 but Yanam held its nerve to edge the set.
Karnataka struggled as a quicker, stronger and better organised unit imposed itself on the match. In Ranjit, Yanam had a fine setter who, in contrast to his predictable counterpart across the net, switched play cleverly.
He linked well with Christopher and Joseph, who surged in from the back of the court time and again. Christopher appeared nervous to begin with, but visibly rose in confidence as the game wore on. Though the 19-year-old fluffed his services on more occasions than one, he atoned for them with his thunderous spikes down the middle.
After the procession the second set had been, it was surprising that Karnataka put up any sort of fight in the third. The side made the most of some avoidable mistakes to stay ahead from the opening point.
At 21-20, however, Joseph brought Yanam level with his umpteenth spike after a run down the right flank. Normal service, it was evident, had been restored.
The results: Maratha Warriors bt Kerala Killers 26-24, 22-25, 22-25, 25-21, 15-13; Yanam Tigers bt Karnataka Bulls 26-24, 25-18, 25-22.
Monday's matches: Yanam Tigers vs. Maratha Warriors (3.30 p.m.), Kerala Killers vs. Hyderabad Chargers (5 p.m.), Karnataka Bulls vs. Chennai Spikers (6.30 p.m.).
Keywords: Indian Volley League