Kolkata Thunderbolts makes it two on the trot as they beat Hyderabad Black Hawks
Bengaluru, 11th February: Defending Champions Kolkata Thunderbolts continued their winning momentum as they registered a confident win over Hyderabad Black Hawks with a score line of 15-13, 15-7, 15-9, 15-12, 8-15 to climb to the top of the table. Thunderbolts’ universal Vinit Kumar stole the show at the Koramangala Indoor Stadium in Bengaluru, Karnataka. Earning a total of 12 points, Vinit was also named as the Player of the Match for his superb performance.
Kolkata Thunderbolts captain and attacker Ashwal Rai was happy on how the team performed and is confident that the team is heading in the right direction. He said, “The tournament is not finished yet. We have a lot of games to go ahead, so we have to stay focused as a team. We will carry the same momentum going in our next match against Kochi Blue Spikers and give our 100%. This win is a huge morale booster for the players going ahead in the tournament.”
Kolkata used the attacking prowess of Vinit and the defensive mindset of Cody Caldwell to win the first two sets and take a 2-0 lead in the match. The Black Hawks tried to rely on their defensive strengths, as SV Guru Prashanth and John Joseph combined together to put on blocks early on. But Cody kept countering Guru’s spikes, and Vinit kept finding areas to attack.
Janshad was the unsung hero for the second set for Kolkata, as he set up Vinit and Deepesh for attacking shots. Hyderabad’s defence continued to stutter while Cody’s blocks did not allow Guru any room to trouble the opposition. Ashwal Rai joined in on the action and earned two consecutive points as Kolkata won the second set 15-7 to take a 2-0 lead in the match.
Trailing by two sets, Hyderabad looked to change strategies and became more aggressive in their approach, as Guru started finding his way into the match. But the Black Hawks did not help themselves by giving away easy points with unforced errors. Rahul and Ashwal began contributing with attacking shots, while Cody remained with his taps. Rahul closed the set with a spike as Kolkata won the third set 15-9 to confirm a win for Kolkata in the match.
Hyderabad’s defence finally found its rhythm in the fourth set as John and Hemanth combined to put on two solid blocks. With a super serve from Guru, the Black Hawks took control of the set. Cody stunned the opposition from the service line, winning four straight points. Kolkata remained strong as Ashwal made another beautiful block to win the set 15-12 for Kolkata to take a 4-0 lead.
With a chance to win the bonus point, Kolkata maintained their energy levels in the final set, but Cody made a couple of unforced errors to give an advantage to the opposition. With a spike, Trent O’Dea gave the Hawks a four-point lead in the final set. The Thunderbolts’ front line could not contain the aggressive play from Trent and Hyderabad took a 13-7 lead. Guru’s spike ended the set 15-8 in Hyderabad’s favour but Kolkata won the match 4-1.