RuPay Pro Volleyball League 2019: Best Player of the Tournament
The inaugural edition of the RuPay Pro Volleyball League 2019 came to an end with the Chennai Spartans being crowned the champions after trouncing the Calicut Heroes in a straight-sets whitewash at the Jawaharlal Nehru Indoor Stadium in Chennai.
One of the key architects of Chennai Spartans' championship-winning run was Canadian international player Rudy Verhoeff. The 29-year-old from Calgary, Alberta finished as the leading scorer in this year's RuPay Pro Volleyball League 2019.
The Canadian international was already the crowd favourite before the finals and felt that playing before the home crowd helped the team. In the press conference post the final match, he expressed his happiness saying, "Playing in front of such huge crowds is a huge advantage. While you focus on volleyball, they take care of emotional support. It gives me a lot of joy to see people become happy watching us play in the final game. We were lucky to play in front of our home crowd today."
Rudy amassed a total of 106 points in 7 matches, finishing a huge twenty points ahead of his nearest competitor, Jerome Vinith of the Calicut Heroes. Out of the total 106 points, Verhoeff scored 88 spike points, ahead of the league's Most Valuable Player, Ajith Lal C (74 spike points) from the Calicut Heroes.
Verhoeff's consistency was the key factor for the Chennai Spartans' eventual title win after they had struggled in the initial stages of the competition. They had won just one out of their three matches in the Kochi leg of the tournament. The Spartans secured their semifinal qualification on the penultimate day of the league stage when they defeated Ahmedabad Defenders.
He proved to be the trump card in the semifinals as well as the final for the Chennai Spartans, scoring 24 points in the two clashes to lead his side to the championship win. He had the highest average of15.1 points per match, with an ability to score blocks as well as serves in addition to his lethal spikes. He was the only player to manage 20 points in three matches during the league stage of the competition.
Verhoeff praised how the league was organized and also put out his suggestions for next year's edition. He said, "The tournament was run professionally. We were very fortunate that we played the final here [in Chennai]. Most leagues would operate in the home-and-away format, so that aspect could be changed."
It will be interesting to see whether Rudy Verhoeff returns to the Chennai Spartans for the FIVB Asian Men’s Club Volleyball Championships having proved his importance for the team during the RuPay Pro Volleyball League 2019.