PVL: Dominant Calicut Heroes crushes Ahmedabad Defenders

Paul Lotman’s fine all-round performance helped Calicut Heroes defeat Ahmedabad Defenders 4-1 and finish the Kochi leg with an all-win record.

Jerome Vinith attempts a smash during Calicut Heroes match against Ahmedabad Defenders.   -  H. VIBHU

As his name suggests, he had a lot to offer. Olympian Paul Lotman’s fine all-round performance helped title favourites Calicut Heroes defeat Ahmedabad Defenders 4-1 and finish the Kochi leg with an all-win record in the RuPay Pro Volleyball League at the Rajiv Gandhi indoor stadium here on Wednesday.

Paul was everywhere. The 33-year-old American came up with some well-directed smashes, very deceptive serves and set up hard and effective blocks which unsettled the Defenders’ big men Mandeep Singh and Gurinder Singh.

Having qualified for the semifinals earlier, one felt that there was a drop in the intensity level in the Heroes’ play, especially in the second set which they dropped.

The Heroes' made many errors with Ajithlal messing up the dig twice and setter Vipul Kumar finishing the set with a poorly-directed hit that went out.

That was the only slip for the Heroes who then dominated the rest of the match, with the young C. Ajithlal, captain Jerome Vinith and A. Karthik coming up with some hard smashes, using Vipul’s fine sets, that the rival team could do nothing about. Novica Bjelica attempted to stop Ajithlal with a soft block a few times but with the back court not supporting him, that did not click.

The Heroes trailed 4-7 in the third set after Ajith was blocked by Victor and Vaishnav but soon the scores were level at seven. With the Heroes ahead at 11-10, the Defenders attempted a super point but it backfired with the bonus point going to the rival team after a Paul smash.

The Heroes’ set up a three-man block for Victor Sysoev while Paul paired up with Karthik for a two-man wall for Gurinder in the fourth set and soon they raced to an 8-1 lead. The rest was easy.

The Defenders finished the Kochi leg without taking a point and its captain and setter Ranjit Singh could only admire the stars on the other side.

“We wish we had players like Paul Lotman, that would have made a big difference,” said Ranjit. The Pro Volley now moves to Chennai for the final leg, starting February 16.

The Result:

Calicut Heroes bt Ahmedabad Defenders 4-1 (15-14, 11-15, 15-11, 15-9, 15-8).