Chennai, February 20: Second semi-final of the RuPay Pro Volleyball League saw Chennai Spartans win a five-set thriller against Kochi Blue Spikers 3-2 (16-14, 9-15, 10-15, 15-8, 15-13) to qualify for the final.
At 17 points, Ruslans Sorokins was the top-scorer for Chennai Spartans (15 spikes, 1 block, 1 serve). Kochi's Manu Joseph also scored 17 points (16 spikes, 1 block) for Kochi Blue Spikers.
The first set started with both teams in no mood to handover a clear advantage to the other. It was 6-6 when a beautifully placed serve by Chennai’s Ruslans Sorokins created the first opening. His following serve hit the net and it was again all square at 7-7.
Naveen Raja Jacob spiked one past David Lee and Chennai went into the first Technical Time Out (TTO) leading 8-7. Kochi called for a Super Point immediately after TTO and converted with a Prabagaran S spike. Prabagaran followed it up with another spike on their serve, Kochi now held a 10-8 lead. Chennai called for a Super Point at 9-11 and Rudy Verhoeff converted with a thunderous spike to level the score at 11-11. It was nail-biting action for the last few points but Chennai finally prevailed and won the first set 16-14.
The script of the second set looked to follow the same route as first as both teams were cancelling out each other until 5-5. At that point, Kochi Blue Spikers called for a Super Point and converted with a Manu Joseph spike to lead 7-5. Kochi went into the TTO with an 8-5 lead. Chennai called for a Super Point when 6-9 down in the set and failed to convert. Kochi had now established a five-point advantage at 11-6. It was no-nonsense business by Kochi after this as they won the set 15-9 and the game stood level at 1-1.
In the third, Kochi raced into an early 3-0 lead. Down 3-7 in the set Chennai called for a Super Point and converted. Winning the Super Point wasn’t enough as a Manu Joseph spike helped Kochi to an 8-5 lead at TTO. Kochi was now thriving on the momentum from the previous set they now led 10-5. Lee and Joseph led from the front in the set as each scored 4 and 3 points respectively to win the set 15-10.
It was do-or-die for Chennai in the penultimate set and Chennai established a 7-6 lead. At that point, Kochi called for a Super Point. Umpire called the serve from Chennai out and when it seemed, they had won the point, Chennai called for a review and it went in their favour and it became a Super Serve. As a result, Chennai went into the TTO leading 8-6. Chennai kept on piling the pressure and also converted off Kochi’s Super Point to eventually win the set 15-8 to take the match into the decider.
Chennai had the momentum in the fifth. In spite of a close fight for points till 4-4, Chennai picked up their game as Sorokins came to the party with two spikes and one block to help his team lead 8-4 at TTO. Kochi was not going to go down easy. Three errors from Chennai, a Prabagaran block and a Lee spike brought Kochi back as the score was level again at 9-9.
Kochi called for a Super Point and Lee converted with an inch perfect spike to give Kochi an 11-10 lead. Immediately, Chennai also called for a Super Point and that was converted. The score stood at 12-11 in Chennai’s favour and from there they won the match 15-13 to qualify for the final.
Chennai Spartans will now play Calicut Heroes in the final of RuPay Pro Volleyball League.
RuPay player of the match: Ruslans Sorokins from Chennai Spartans
Final Score: Chennai Spartans beat Kochi Blue Spikers: 16-14, 9-15, 10-15, 15-8, 15-13
Source: Press Release