Defending Champions Kolkata Thunderbolts were stunned by Bengaluru Torpedoes with a score line of 15-10, 10-15, 15-13, 15-10 in the first semi-final of the second season of the RuPay Prime Volleyball League at the Regional Sports Centre, in Kochi on Friday.
Bengaluru went big right from the word go but handed over a couple of early freebies to the defending champions. On one hand skipper Ashwal Rai continued his sensational form for the Thunderbolts with his superb performance, Ibin Jose started making an impact for the Torpedoes.
The neck-and-neck battle saw the Torpedoes move an inch ahead with Tsvetelin Tsvetanov and skipper Pankaj Sharma’s attacks. Janshad kept setting up Ashwal to keep the Thunderbolts closer to the opposition. But Pankaj’s dominant show from the service line troubled Kolkata’s defence and Bengaluru took control.
Rahul put a block on Pankaj and made a thunderous super serve to make his presence felt. His super show gave confidence to Vinit Kumar and Ashwal to make strong spikes and Kolkata found an opening. Service errors from Bengaluru did not help their cause and the Thunderbolts levelled the playing field.
Rahul kept finding ways to tackle Bengaluru’s three-man block line. But a crucial review call from head coach David Lee gave the Torpedoes an important point upon which Bengaluru built their momentum to once again regain control.
Torpedoes defence rock solid when Mujeeb, Vyshak, and Abalooch put on a three-man block on Rahul’s spike. Midhun’s clever retrieval of the ball at a crucial moment further edged the Torpedoes ahead as the Thunderbolts were blown away by Bengaluru defence.