PVL final: Resurgent Chennai Spartans faces formidable Calicut

The winner of the final has the incentive of representing India in the Asian men's Club Volleyball Championship in mid-April.

Calicut Heroes has fired on all cylinders throughout the season.   -  SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

The unbeaten Calicut Heroes will take on Chennai Spartans in the final of Pro Volleyball League on Friday at the Jawaharlal Nehru Indoor Stadium here, with both teams in a rich vein of form.

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Chennai has responded positively to the pressure of must-win matches, beating Ahmedabad Defenders in its last league match to qualify for the semifinal and coming from behind to win against a more formidable Kochi Blue Spikers to reach the final.

Universal Rudy Verhoeff (the highest scorer in the league with 93 points) and attacker Naveen Raja Jacob (the team's second-highest scorer with 70 points) have been the key players for Chennai, with their spike serves and spike points proving to be the x-factor. Ruslans Sorokins, an attacker, played an important role in Chennai's semifinal victory over Kochi and will be integral to the home team's chances on Friday.

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Rudy Verhoeff (centre) has led the way for Chennai Spartans in its journey to final.   -  SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

 

Calicut has won each of its six matches en route to the final. It has been particularly lethal on its serve, winning 46 serve points, which is 10 more than the second-best team (Chennai's 36).

A. Karthik and captain Jerome Vinith are among the top three servers in the league with 16 and 12 points respectively. Ajith Lal has the third-most spike points in the league, behind Jerome. This trio, along with Paul Lotman and Iluoni Ngampourou, forms a potent combination.

Calicut's serving and how Chennai receives may well shape the course of Friday's final.

On the eve of the final, Calicut captain, Jerome, said, "We are really delighted that we have come so far in the tournament. I am thankful to each and every team member and our fans ‘the Chembada’ for being a part of this journey. We have played well throughout, we want to keep that up and make sure that the trophy comes home."

His opposite number, Shelton Moses, said, "We have overcome many tight matches in order to reach this far. The mood in the dressing room is very positive and we are grateful to the amount of love that we have received from the Chennai fans. Calicut is a very strong team but we also have the hunger and desire to win the cup. We will go out there with only one goal that is to win."

Among the incentives for the winner of Pro Volleyball League final will be representing India in the Asian men's Club Volleyball Championship, which is scheduled to be played in mid-April in Chinese Taipei.

The men's final will be preceded by the women's all-star match between Team Blue and Team Yellow, represented by Alexa Strange and Marina Cvetanova respectively. This will be a best-of-three sets match scheduled to be played at 5 PM. The men's final will begin at 7 PM.