Karnataka Bulls fall

Hosts go down tamely to Yanam Tigers in opener

Bright lights, a crowd of a thousand-odd people and Sandalwood numbers bursting from a myriad of speakers did little to lift the Bulls, who without a semblance of a fight went down to the clinical Yanam Tigers 26-24, 25-18, 25-22 in their opening tie at the Sree Kanteerava indoor stadium.

In the day’s first match, Maratha Warriors posted a hard-fought 26-24, 22-25, 22-25, 25-21, 15-13 win over the Kerala Killers. As it snowed pigeon feathers right across the stadium, the Bulls looked to prove their prowess after a lengthy warm-up and inauguration ceremony but things just didn’t fall in place. Yanam muscled their way to an 11-8 lead with Y Subba Rao on the right and universal Tom Joseph firing on all cylinders.

Bulls found some strength in Tamil Nadu’s A Vikram, who spiked with brilliant direction more often than not, but with a weak blocking pair at their disposal and a poor first touch, they could barely stitch together a decent rally.

Despite all this, the Bulls managed to stay on the heels of the Tigers (18-20), who had issues with serving inside the opponents’ box. The scores changed on each serve but Yanam held on to the lead, and they managed to do that long enough to grab the opening set.

Bulls’ Shelton Moses finally got into the act but the rest of the team -- Sanjay Kumar and skipper TD Ravikumar incluxded -- were mute spectators in the second set as the Tigers scored at will to take a 13-10 lead. Local lad V Jagadeesh and Moses combined well upfront to hold the Tigers back for a while but their wall cracked and coach Muthukesavalu’s lads made it 2-0.

With coach Om Prakash giving them a whole lot to think about during the break, the Bulls got into the court with new-found zeal in the third set to hound the Tigers with an array of smashes and clever play. That trend continued till the scores were even at 21-21. The Tigers, then, went on an attacking spree and when the crowd expected the Bulls to step it up and hold fort, they let their opponents run all over them.

Results: Yanam Tigers bt Karnataka Bulls 26-24, 25-18, 25-22; Maratha Warriors bt Kerala Killers 26-24, 22-25, 22-25, 25-21, 15-13.

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