The second semi-final of the RuPay Pro Volleyball League saw Chennai Spartans win a five-set thriller against Kochi Blue Spikers 3-2 (16-14, 9-15, 10-15, 15-8, 15-13) to qualify for the final.
At 17 points, Ruslans Sorokins was the top-scorer for Chennai Spartans (15 spikes, 1 block, 1 serve). Kochi’s Manu Joseph also scored 17 points (16 spikes, 1 block) for Kochi Blue Spikers.
The first set started with both teams in no mood to handover a clear advantage to the other. It was 6-6 when a beautifully placed serve by Chennai’s Ruslans Sorokins created the first opening. His following serve hit the net and it was again all square at 7-7. Naveen Raja Jacob spiked one past David Lee and Chennai went into the first Technical Time Out (TTO) leading 8-7.
Kochi called for a Super Point immediately after TTO and converted with a Prabagaran S spike. Prabagaran followed it up with another spike on their serve, Kochi now held a 10-8 lead. Chennai called for a Super Point at 9-11 and Rudy Verhoeff converted with a thunderous spike to level the score at 11-11. It was nail-biting action for the last few points but Chennai finally prevailed and won the first set 16-14.
The script of the second set looked to follow the same route as first as both teams were cancelling out each other until 5-5. At that point, Kochi Blue Spikers called for a Super Point and converted with a Manu Joseph spike to lead 7-5. Kochi went into the TTO with an 8-5 lead. Chennai called for a Super Point when 6-9 down in the set and failed to convert. Kochi had now established a five-point advantage at 11-6. It was a no-nonsense business by Kochi after this as they won the set 15-9 and the game stood level at 1-1.
In the third, Kochi raced into an early 3-0 lead. Down 3-7 in the set Chennai called for a Super Point and converted. Winning the Super Point wasn’t enough as a Manu Joseph spike helped Kochi to an 8-5 lead at TTO. Kochi was now thriving on the momentum from the previous set they now led 10-5. Lee and Joseph led from the front in the set as each scored 4 and 3 points respectively to win the set 15-10.
It was do-or-die for Chennai in the penultimate set and Chennai established a 7-6 lead. At that point, Kochi called for a Super Point. Umpire called the serve from Chennai out and when it seemed, they had won the point, Chennai called for a review and it went in their favour and it became a Super Serve. As a result, Chennai went into the TTO leading 8-6. Chennai kept on piling the pressure and also converted off Kochi’s Super Point to eventually win the set 15-8 to take the match into the decider.
Chennai had the momentum in the fifth. In spite of a close fight for points till 4-4, Chennai picked up their game as Sorokins came to the party with two spikes and one block to help his team lead 8-4 at TTO. Kochi was not going to go down easy.
Three errors from the Spartans, a Prabagaran block and a Lee spike brought Kochi back as the score was level again at 9-9. Kochi called for a Super Point and Lee converted with an inch-perfect spike to give Kochi an 11-10 lead. Immediately, the home side also called for a Super Point and that was converted. The score stood at 12-11 in Chennai’s favour and from there, they won the match 15-13 to qualify for the final.
Chennai Spartans will now play Calicut Heroes in the final of RuPay Pro Volleyball League. The match will be broadcast Live and Exclusive on SONY SIX and SONY TEN 3 and will be streamed live on SONY LIV from 6:50 PM IST on 22nd February.