Asian Men's Volleyball Championship: Chennai Spartans secures last-eight spot

Chennai Spartans finished second in Pool C with four points from three matches.

Chennai Spartans fought back from a set down to secure a last-eight spot. (file photo)   -  M. Vedhan

Pro Volleyball League franchise Chennai Spartans cruised to quarterfinals of the Asian Men’s Volleyball Championship after defeating Qatar’s Al-Rayyan Club in its last Pool C encounter of the 2019 Asian Men’s Club Volleyball Championship at the University of Taipei (Tianmu) Gymnasium on Saturday. The victory was orchestrated by Jerome Vineeth and Ashwal Rai, who scored 19 and 15 points respectively. The win wouldn’t have proved enough for the Chennai team, which also needed the result of the match between Kazakhstan’s TNK Kazchrome and Est Cola to go its way. A win for the Thai club secured India’s place in the next round.

It was Spartans’ second win on the trot. With two wins from three fixtures, it finished second in Pool C. Al-Rayyan, which had the services of Luxembourg’s Kamil Rychlicki and Youssef Oughlaf, proved too hot to handle early on as it won the first set 25-22. The second set was dominated by the Indian-Latvian duo of Jerome Vineeth and Ruslans Sorokins, who were ably supported by Mohan Ukkrapandian’s serving and setting. The result was a resounding 25-20 win in the second set.

With Jerome coming into his own, the Spartans didn’t look back after that and looked even more ruthless in its 25-19 demolition of the Qatar-based club in the third round. Brazilian Marcus Costa and Youssef took full advantage of the lapse in Chennai’s concentration in the fourth set to mount a strong comeback with a 25-14 win and took the match to the final set.

The tie-breaker saw some intense action and both teams gave each other a tough chase. After Al-Rayyan brought the deficit to one point at 13-14, Akhin landed the final punch by smartly producing a mid-court drop for win the deciding set 15-12 and with it the match.

Despite the loss, Al-Rayyan topped the group with seven points and will be in the next round along with Chennai Spartans, which finished the pool stage with four points from its 3 matches.