Resilience has been a theme for Chennai Spartans in the Pro Volleyball League (PVL) this season. After all, they left it late to seal a place in the semi-finals – pipping Black Hawks Hyderabad in the last match for the spot. Playing against favourites and second-placed Kochi Blue Spikers, Spartans won in intense sets of 16-14, 9-15, 10-15, 15-8, 15-13 in the 2nd PVL semifinal at the Nehru Indoor Stadium, Chennai on Wednesday.
The yellows quite easily outnumbered the Blue Spikers, both in the stands and down in the centre. Clinching at the key moments in the 1st, 4th and 5th sets is what made the difference for Chennai secure its place in Friday’s final against Calicut Heroes.
Oh what a match it was last night with brilliant performances from both sides! There were too many great individual performances and in the process 4 players reached the 50 point mark in the first ever #RuPayPVL. Congratulations!#ThrillKaCall@chennaispartans @KBS_VC pic.twitter.com/1nQzbExYAW
— Pro Volleyball (@ProVolleyballIN) February 21, 2019
Chennai Spartans vs Kochi Blue Spikers
Chennai edged past Kochi 16-14 in a what was an even first set. Kochi had a glorious chance of closing out the set when the score stood at 14-13. However, a swift spike from Ruslans Sorokins ensured that the home team levelled the proceedings. Moreover, they went on to win two points in quick succession to critically go one up.
The Chennai outfit had been the better of the two, especially before the technical timeout.
It was a Super Point that shaped the course of the second set with Kochi winning by 15-9. Tied at 5-5, Kochi opted to go with a Super Point. Manu Joseph then spiked impressively to help the team build a 2-point lead.
Chennai tried hard Kochi from running away with the set by taking the Super Point option of their own with the score at standing at 6-9.
However, an error from Naveen helped Kochi extend their lead up to 5 points (11-6). It was later consolidated with spikes from Andrej Patuc and Joseph. The latter scored 7 points to draw Kochi level in the match.
Here's a clip of @KBS_VC winning the second set.
— Pro Volleyball (@ProVolleyballIN) February 20, 2019
Kochi took authority of the third set early on with twin blocks from David Lee followed by a Joseph spike. But as they were 5-1 up, Chennai managed to put together two points in quick succession. When Joseph scored another spike at 6-3, the home team was forced to call for Super Point.
The gamble worked as the Spartans won the Super Point through attacker Sorokins. However, Kochi still prevailed to win the third set by 15-10.
Kochi became passive at the start of the fourth set, and Chennai very well capitalized. The Super Point proved decisive once again. At 6-7, Chennai’s Kapil Dev posted an ace with his team on Super Point, to hand his team a healthy 3-point cushion.
Then again, at 12-7 up, Chennai was almost on the verge of losing the tie. However, spikes from Rudy and Naveen tilted the match in the host’s favour. Joseph missed his spike to then tie the score 2-2 and taking the game into an exciting final set.
Having clinched the fourth, Chennai had the momentum with them. With a combination of blocks and spikes, the team extended the lead and were in the driver’s seat by the technical timeout. Lee spiked at the right time to help Kochi win the Super Point and put the score at 11-10 up.
However, it was Naveen’s heroics that gave Chennai the edge. He registered back-to-back spikes to ensure his team won the set by 15-13 and thus enter the finals.