PVL 2023: Kolkata Thunderbolts start title defense with win against Bengaluru
The defending champions defeated hosts Bengaluru Torpedoes in the Prime Volleyball League 2023 opener.
Defending champions Kolkata Thunderbolts started their title defense with a win against Bengaluru Torpedoes in the Prime Volleyball League 2023 season opener on Saturday, in Bangalore.
Thunderbolts, who almost didn't exist as a team in the PVL 2022, clinched its inaugural title after defeating Ahmedabad Defenders in the final.
In the season 2 opener however, the title holders seemed a mere shadow of their past selves. It seemed natural, after losing some key players as well as their coach Sunny Joseph, who guided them to the title last season.
Hosts Bengaluru Torpedoes turned on the heat as they started off really well, courtesy of a Tsvetelin Tsvetanov special, their Bulgarian star. At one point, the home team led Kolkata 8-5 in the first set.
Slowly yet steadily, after the likes of Cody Caldwell and Rahul Ramesh starting coming into the game, the Thunderbolts found their groove and clinched the first set 15-11. From then, it was easy work for the defending champions to scoop up the second set with ease, winning it 15-11 as well.
It was in the third set where things looked a bit shaky for Kolkata. The torpedoes were determined and weren't looking to allow the visitors a stroll in the park. They made it difficult for Kolkata, but couldn't do enough.
There was a moment where Bengaluru had called for the Super Point, but Kolkata ended up getting the two points. While Bengaluru did level it at 13-13 in the set, Kolkata ultimately sealed the win and won their third set 15-14.
Despite having lost the match, Bengaluru didn't seem to give up and went on to win the next two sets with score lines 15-10 and 15-14. This was merely consolation for David Lee's side, although they did stop Kolkata from getting three points, which they would have if they had won the match five sets to nil.
"It was huge, winning the first match of the season. You can't expect both the teams to play their best in volleyball, and we certainly didn't. Just staying positive and spreading good energy helped us stay on top. It's much different having the crowd, as last year we were in a bio-bubble, so it was good to feel the energy of the crowd," Cody Caldwell told The Bridge after their win.
Kolkata next plays Hyderabad Blackhawks on 8th February, while Bengaluru Torpedoes play Mumbai Meteors on 12th February.