PVL Final: Chennai Spartans hammers Calicut Heroes - Key Highlights

The Chennai Spartans dished out a clinical performance to cruise to a 3-0 win against Calicut Heroes and clinch the Pro Volleyball League (PVL) title.

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

Hello and welcome to Sporstar's live coverage of this evening's Pro Volleyball League (PVL) final played between Chennai Spartans and Calicut Heroes at Chennai's Jawaharlal Nehru Indoor Stadium.

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And that's a wrap! The Chennai Spartans put up a terrific display and are crowned the winners of the inaugural edition of Pro Volleyball League. The Spartans hammer Calicut Heroes, which had been unbeaten so far, 15-11, 15-12, 16-14 to claim a sensational victory.

MATCH REPORT --> Chennai Spartans trumps Calicut Heroes 3-0 to clinch title

 

(Scores read Chennai Spartans - Calicut Heroes)

16-14: THEY HAVE DONE IT! THE CHENNAI SPARTANS ARE THE WINNERS OF THE INAUGURAL EDITION OF THE PRO VOLLEYBALL LEAGUE!

 

14-14: Ajith pegs one back and restores parity, but the Spartans seem to be running away with this one!

14-13: Oooh, WHAT A BLOCK!
Akhin makes a mind-blowing block to earn the Chennai Spartans a CHAMPIONSHIP POINT!

12-13: The Chennai Spartans are back in this one! A spectacular serve from Naveen Raja causes all sorts of trouble and has reduced the Calicut Heroes' lead to a mere point!

 

9-12: Stunning, stunning work from Ajith Lal. He bags his eighth point of the evening to maintain his side's lead.

8-11: Calicut Heroes wins the oh-so-crucial Super Point and Paul Lotman follows it up with a fine spike to give the side a three-point advantage.

8-8: WHAT A RECOVERY! Boy oh boy, the Calicut Heroes win three points in a row, the last one comes off a Ajith Lal spike, and have drawn level!

8-5: ACE! Ruslansk Sorokins serve is unplayable and the Chennai Spartans extends its lead to three points now, well on course to seal this third set too.

5-3: What a nerve-racking point! An intense rally, glittered with some fantastic digs, sees Ratheesh's attempt sail just wide and the Chennai Spartans race ahead.

2-3: The Calicut Heroes take an early lead in this third set. Paul Lotman, who has been a tad patchy tonight, earns the point to give his side a one-point lead.

Our reporter Suhith Kumar, who is at the venue, says: Chennai is very good value for the two sets to nil lead. Rudy Verhoeff, who has scored the most spike points in the season, is once again doing the most damage. He has 11 points so far and each of those has been significant. Chennai has lost from being two sets up previously in the league stage. Chennai, though, has a different aura about it today and the home crowd is buzzing!

 

-Third set begins-

What do you think? Can the Chennai Spartans claim an unassailable 3-0 lead and secure the PVL title? VOTE HERE!

 

15-12: THE SPARTANS ARE ON FIRE! A clever block fro, Rudy Verhoeff sees the Chennai Spartans win the second set 15-12 and take a massive 2-0 lead in this PVL final.

 

13-12: How crucial is that going to be? Naveen Raja's serve floats wide of the baseline and only one point separates the two sides now! We're in for a nail-biting finish.

12-10: RUDY RUDY RUDY, you just can't keep him quiet! He wins the Super Point for the Chennai Spartans to put the side ahead once again.

10-10: Karthik does it! He wins the all-important Super Point to bring this second set back to level terms.

 

9-8: SOLID. Vinith gets into the right place at the right time to reject Naveen Raja's spike and reduce the Chennai Spartans' lead to a mere point.

9-6: There's no stopping him! Rudy gets on top of it and slams a booming spike to score his 100th point of the season. What a tournament he's having!

 

6-6: We're now on level terms! And it's Ajith Lal who does the trick again. After a fairly quiet opening set, Ajith, with his phenomenal spikes, has clinched four of the last six points the Calicut Heroes have won.

6-4: The Calicut Heroes seemed to be edging close but Rudy ensures the home side remains on top. He rises high and cleverly places the ball past three Calicut defenders.

4-2: WHAT A HIT! Heroes' Ajith Lal scorches that right down the centre to claim his second point of the evening.

3-0: Just the start the home side needed! Chennai Spartans races to a 3-0 lead in no time. Interestingly, all three points come off errors made by the Calicut Heroes captain Jerome Vinith.

Our reporter Suhith Kumar, who is at the venue, says: The atmosphere is nothing short of electric here. Both sets of fans playing drums and making plenty of noise. Chennai Spartans has used the atmosphere to its advantage and got its teeth into this final. It wins the first set 15-11 with a spike from Universal Rudy Verhoeff. The gauntlet has been laid to Calicut Heroes.


-Second set begins-

 

15-11: The home side draws first blood! Chennai Spartans combine extremely well and dish out a spectacular performance to pocket the opening set.

 

14-11: Jerome is at it again! He nows slams a massive down-the-line smash to keep the Spartans in check.

13-10: The captain joins the party! Jerome Vinith gets a much-needed point with a fiery smash to ensure his side remains in contention for the opening game.

12-9: Back to back points for the Calicut Heroes. Lotman gets into great position to defend Naveen Raja's spike and earn his side a crucial point. However, he appeared to have landed awkwardly on his ankle and is receiving some quick treatment now.  An injury to Lotman would spell disaster for the Calicut Heroes!

11-7: BLOCKED! Rudy Verhoeff does extremely well to reject Jerome's spike and takes the Spartans to within four points of the first set!

8-7: OUCH! The Chennai Spartans call for the Super Point but Shelton Moses fails to get his serve past the net and gifts the Calicut Heroes two easy points. How crucial is this going to be?

7-4: It's that man again! Naveen Raja sends a stunning curling spike and Lotman has no response. The Spartans seem to have found a fine rhythm here.

5-3: What a phenomenal recovery! Naveen makes a gravity-defying dig and Ruslans spikes it home to extend Chennai Spartans' lead.

4-2: The pressure getting to him? The oh-so-experienced Paul Lotman sends his serve well past the court to gift Chennai Spartans an easy point.

1-0: The home side claims the first point! Naveen Raja rises high to send a thunderous spike, much to the joy of the full-throated crowd.

Starting line-up for Chennai Spartans: Shelton Moses (C), Hariharan V, Naveen Raja Jacob, Akhin GS, Rudy Verhoeff, Ruslans Sorokins, Prabakaran P (L).

Starting line-up for Calicut Heroes: Paul Lotman, Ajit Lal C, Vipul Sharma, Jerome Vinith (C), Karthik A, Iluoni Ngampourou and Ratheesh CK (L).

 

7:05 PM: And on come the Calicut Heroes. The visiting side is the favourite going into the tie, having been unbeaten all throughout the league stage. 

 

7:03 PM: Here come the Chennai Spartans! Clad in their bright yellow jerseys, the home side is welcomed by a boisterous capacity crowd. Surely, the home support will spur them on!

We're now just a few minutes away from the action! Sit back, grab yourself a tub of popcorn and stay tuned for an enthralling contest.

Have your say! VOTE VOTE VOTE

 

Here's a fun stat ahead of the final -

 

Here's the match preview:

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.