The dancing laser lights, bright stage and loud music between the dots…the ambiance was great. Indoor volleyball has never been so good in the country and on Saturday night the sport had a magical new look as the Pro Volleyball League debuted at Rajiv Gandhi Indoor Stadium here.
Almost half of the field was blue for the home team, Kochi Blue Spikers. And they did not disappoint the hosts as they beat U Mumba Volley 15-11, 15-13, 15-8, 15-10, 5-15 after leading 3-0 in the league opening. The small disappointment was that she didn’t get the bonus point because she lost the last set.
The Blue Spikers had a big name on the 2008 Olympic champion, American David Lee, but who was on stage, climbing well and smashing hard was Manu Joseph, 29, from Kerala. While David, who delivered some great kicks and bumps in the opening set that annoyed Mumba the whole time, Manu was constantly making shots either through the opponent’s two-man block or kissing the sides of the jump wall.
The captain of The Blue Spikers Mohan Ukrapandian, the Indian playmaker, played his role perfectly. Aside from his clever lifts spreading confidence all around, Mumba has often surprised with his drops.
The man with the super point was S. Prabagaran. Although not at the fiery level one often sees, twice, in the first and third sets, the veteran India striker earned the double points that made life easy for the hosts.
U Mumba was level 10 in one stage in the second set but the team didn’t look like a consistent group. The first pass was a problem for a large part of the match which affected the team’s rhythm. The visiting foreigner, Tomislav Koskovic and Nicholas Bianco, played well in some parts, but it was not enough against the Blue Spikers.
“The first match is always tough and we are happy we won it. The situation was good, it gave us confidence but some lights affected our play a little bit,” Okerbandian said.
|The result: Kochi Blue Spikers vs U Mumba Volley 15-11, 15-13, 15-8, 15-10, 5-15.|