PVL: Chennai Spartans trumps Calicut Heroes 3-0 to clinch title

Chennai Spartans produced a scintillating performance to cruise to a 3-0 victory against Calicut Heroes and claim the Pro Volleyball League (PVL) title on Friday.

The Chennai Spartans pose with the Pro Volleyball League (PVL) title after overcoming Calicut Heroes in the final on Friday.   -  M. Vedhan

Chennai Spartans outplayed Calicut Heroes in every department to cruise to a 3-0 victory (15-11, 15-12, 16-14) in the final of the inaugural edition of the Pro Volleyball League.

From captain and blocker Shelton Moses to setter V. Hariharan, Chennai had great individual performances that made the difference on the night. Calicut, unbeaten coming into the final, failed to impose its will on the home team and errors at crucial moments, including when it was 13-10 up in the third set, proved its undoing.

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Chennai will now represent India at the Asian Men’s Club Volleyball Championship, scheduled to be held in Chinese Taipei in mid-April.

Chennai secured the first set 15-11. It was lethal with its service and spikes as Calicut floundered defensively. Six of Chennai’s first eight points came through spikes, with universal Rudy Verhoeff and attackers Naveen Raja Jacob and Ruslans Sorokins — who scored a combined five points — contributing heavily. Calicut sought to cut the gap by opting for the Super Point right after the Technical Timeout. An error from Chennai captain Shelton Moses won it the Super Point. But the home team took the first set, winning the next five points in a row.

Calicut conceded a three-point lead before staging a fightback in the second set. Two spike errors and a service error from captain Jerome Vinith caused an early setback, but a quartet of spikes from C. Ajith Lal kept it in the tie and didn’t allow Chennai to pull away and the gap at the Technical Timeout was only two points (6-8).

Calicut – 8-10 down – opted for the Super Point and won it. Chennai responded by converting its Super Point to retain the two-point advantage at 12-10. Paul Lotman made a service error with his team trailing Chennai 11-12 and a spike from G.S. Akhin and a block from Verhoeff closed out the second set 15-12 for the home side.

Chennai had relinquished a two-set lead in the league stage, but it had a different aura tonight. It served particularly well and was defensively superior as well.

Chennai began the third set without dropping its intensity. It took a three-point lead into the Technical Timeout (8-5) with a couple of spikes from Verhoeff and errors from Calicut captain Jerome, attacker A. Karthik and libero C. K. Ratheesh. Calicut, though, came back fighting and won the next six points, including Chennai's Super Point to go 11-8 up.

However, the Chennai combination of Akhin and Naveen sparked a comeback. A block from Akhin was the impetus for the home team and it won four points in succession on Naveen’s serve to overturn the deficit and earn a championship point at 14-13. An Ajith Lal spike drew Calicut level again, but two errors in succession from Jerome gave Chennai the third set 16-14 and the championship.

The result: Chennai Spartans beat Calicut Heroes 15-11, 15-12, 16-14
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