Chennai, February 22: On a night that Chennai volleyball fans would not forget for long, Chennai Spartans were crowned as the winners of the inaugural RuPay Pro Volleyball League as they beat Calicut Heroes in straight sets 3-0 (15-11; 15-12; 16-14). League's top scorer and Best Spiker Rudy Verhoeff again delivered as he scored 13 points (11 spikes and 2 blocks). For Calicut, league's MVP Ajith Lal was the highest scorer with 9 points (9 spikes).
As a result of winning the first edition of the league, Chennai Spartans also qualify for the FIVB Asian Men's Club Volleyball Championship.
The first set of the match started was fitting for a finale as both the teams looked equal until Chennai went into a 3-point lead at 8-5 entering the first Technical Time Out (TTO). Calicut called for a Super Point immediately after the TTO and converted to close the gap to 7-8.
With the crowd support behind them, Chennai took inspiration from them and established a 3-point cushion again with the score at 12-9. Calicut was trying to make a comeback but the lead was too steep to climb. Verhoeff and Naveen Raja Jacob scored 4 points each to help Chennai win the set 15-11.
Calicut, who hadn't lost a single match this season, started the second set nervously. Chennai didn't have to work hard for their first four points as three errors from skipper Vinith and one from Karthik gave Chennai a 4-1 lead. But Calicut's star spiker and MVP of the season Lal took matters in his hand getting Calicut three spike points to reduce the deficit to 3-5. For Chennai, Verhoeff was in the form of his life as he scored his 100th point in the league when his side took a 9-6 lead.
At 10-8 Calicut called for a Super Point and converted it with a Karthik spike. Immediately, Chennai called for one and Verhoeff didn't make any mistake to bring back a 2-point lead for his side at 12-10. Spike from Lal and service error from Jacob got Calicut at 12-13 but Chennai wasn't letting this slip and Verhoeff, this time with a block, put them 2-0 up in the match.
Calicut continued to look rusty as they gifted Chennai four of the first eight points as the local team went into TTO with an 8-5 lead. Chennai too gave away two of the first five points to Calicut on errors but they looked a better side going into TTO. It wasn't to be post TTO as Chennai made two more errors allowing Calicut to find their groove.
For the first time in the set, Calicut took lead at 11-8. Trailing 10-13, Chennai decided to take matters in their hand. Two blocks and one spike by Akhin and a service point from local boy Jacob took them to a match point at 14-13. Lal levelled it for Calicut at 14-14. But Vinith, who had been error-prone through the match, conceded two errors in the end and the match too.
Final score: Chennai Spartans beat Calicut Heroes - 15-11, 15-12, 16-14
1st Place - Chennai Spartans - INR 50 Lakhs
Runner's Up - Calicut Heroes - INR 20 Lakhs
Nippon Fan Favorite of the Day: Ajith Lal (Calicut Heroes)
RuPay Player of the Match: Naveen Raja Jacob (Chennai Spartans)
Bank of Baroda Most Valuable Player: Ajith Lal (Calicut Heroes)
Peter England Most Stylish Player: Karthik A (Calicut Heroes)
Best Spiker: Rudy Verhoeff (Chennai Spartans)
Best Blocker: David Lee (Kochi Blue Spikers)
Source: PVL Media