Day 2 of the RuPay Pro Volleyball League saw Calicut Heroes beat Chennai Spartans by 4-1 (15-8, 15-8, 13-15, 15-11,15-11) in front of roaring fans at Rajiv Gandhi Indoor Stadium.
Riding on Player of the Match Ajith Lal’s scintillating form, Calicut made light work of Chennai. Lal top scored for the winning team with 14 points (13 spikes and 1 block) while Chennai’s highest scorer was Rudy Verhoeff with 8 points (6 spikes, 1 block and 1 serve).
After winning the toss, Chennai decided to receive. Calicut was happy to serve and took the early initiative with spikes from Ajith Lal and Karthik A to go up 3-1. Calicut skipper Jerome Vinith and Paul Lotman kept the momentum up to stretch the lead to 5-2. Calicut was equally strong in defence as Iluoni Ngampourou made two consecutive blocks to give his side a six-point cushion at 8-2 entering the first Technical Time Out (TTO). Chennai had no answers to Calicut’s superior game as Calicut piled further on their opponent’s agony landing a Super Serve to take a 13-2 lead. At 14-4, Calicut called for a Super Point, lost the same. Chennai took two more points to reach 8-14 but Calicut skipper Vinith was in a hurry to end the set and he did that with a breathtaking spike and sealed the set 15-8.
Calicut continued to run away with the second set taking the first three points. Chennai registered three points primarily because of unforced errors by Calicut to reach 3-5. Soon after Chennai called for a Super Point but Calicut captain Vinith spiked to earn the super point for his team extending the lead to 7-3. Immediately, Calicut called for a Super Point and Chennai returned the favour to reduce the gap to 5-7. Calicut took the next point off Chennai’s serve going into TTO. Post TTO, Calicut maintained their attacking prowess and closed out the set 15-8 with strong spike by Ajith Lal of a poor return of serve by Chennai.
The third set looked more even as both the teams went toe-to-toe till 6-6. On gaining a point advantage at 7-6 Chennai called for a Super Point and like the previous set missed out on taking advantage of the same giving Calicut a one-point advantage at 8-7. Even Calicut couldn’t make the most of their Super Point as Chennai broke their opponent’s serve at 10-11. From 12-11, Chennai got the momentum and closed the set 15-13 with a strong spike from Naveen Jacob making it 1-2.
After closing a hard-fought third set, Chennai couldn’t keep wresting the initiative and gave away easy points trailing 3-8 at TTO. To press for further advantage, Calicut called for a Super Point immediately after TTO but Chennai won the point taking them to 5-8. A point later, Chennai called for a Super Point but couldn’t convert as Vinith spiked his way through the Chennai blockers. Calicut was cruising when Naveen Raja Jacob served an ace on Super Serve taking the score from 7-12 to 9-12. Calicut didn’t want to go the distance and closed the set at 15-11.
Chennai regrouped in the last set taking a 7-5 lead and calling for a Super Point but they missed the chance to go ahead like all the previous sets and scores were level at 7-7. Chennai got ahead at 8-7 but Calicut won five consecutive points including a Super Point when Naveen Kumar made a peach of a serve that allowed them to register their first Super Point of the match. There was no breathing space for Chennai from there where they could only garner one point that too on Calicut’s error but soon the set was closed at 15-11 and with that the match at 4-1.