The second week of the RuPay Pro Volleyball League 2019 action carried on at the Rajiv Gandhi Indoor Stadium in Kochi, Kerala as the home side, Kochi Blue Spikers, took to the court against the Chennai Spartans.
Kochi Blue Spikers ended their home leg sojourn on an upbeat note by scripting a come-from-behind victory over the Chennai Spartans. They went from 0-2 down at one point to win the match 3-2 (12-15, 10-15, 15-11 15-13 15-10).
Kochi's Prabhagran S and Praveen Kumar scored the most number of points for the side with hauls of 12 and 11 points respectively. Chennai's Rudy Verhoeff was in an incredible form with a tally of 20 points but it went in vain at the final buzzer.
Chennai Spartans continued their momentum from their last win and began the first set on a bright note. Manu Joseph did well to keep on the heels of the Spartans with timely spikes as Akhin GS and Rudy Verhoeff continued to deliver for the away side. Naveen Raja Jacob scored two points in quick succession to give the Spartans the advantage in the set.
Chennai won the Super Point but a couple of errors allowed the Kochi Blue Spikers to earn their way back into the set. The Spikers weren't able to maintain the momentum and the Spartans wrapped up the set in the end at 15-12, with Ruslans Sorokins landing the winning spike.
The second set of the match saw the Chennai side kick off strongly as Rudy Verhoeff and Naveen Raja Jacob got points in quick succession for the early lead. A couple of errors from the Spartans allowed the Blue Spikers to get back on the board. However, the Blue Spikers' Mohan Ukkrapandian and Manu Joseph committed errors that saw the Chennai Spartans take an 8-5 lead at the technical timeout.
Prabagran S and David Lee landed two great spikes to make it 10-7 but the Chennai Spartans successfully won the Super Point to inch ahead in set. Naveen Raja Jacob was the key man again for the Spartans scoring a crucial spike and serve to get the set point for the side at 14-9. David Lee got one point back for the Blue Spikers but Ruslans Sorokins scored with a deft touch from the outside hit to grab the second set for the Chennai Spartans at 15-10.
Kochi Blue Spikers began the crucial third set on a poor note conceding two quick points but regained their bearings and struck back with three points in a row. Praveen Kumar was in stunning form with his spikes and blocks grabbing the lead for them. Three consecutive errors from the Chennai Spartans allowed the Blue Spikers to take an 8-4 lead into the technical timeout.
A successful Super Point from the Chennai Spartans allowed them to cut the lead down to two points with the spike coming from Rudy Verhoeff. Within no time, the scores were level at 9-9 as Chennai skipper Shelton Moses landed the block from the middle blocker position. Praveen scored a crucial Super Point to gain a healthy lead for the Kochi side at 13-10. At set point, a wayward block on Prabhagaran's spike got the Kochi Blue Spikers their first set win of the match with a 15-11 scoreline.
Kochi Blue Spikers carried on their momentum into the fourth set and ran into a 3-0 lead by banking on a couple of errors from the Chennai Spartans. However, Rudy Verhoeff delivered strong spikes to lead the comeback in the set for the Chennai side and the score stood at 7-7. Chennai's errors saw the Blue Spikers edge ahead at the technical timeout. Rudy Verhoeff was on target again getting his side on level terms scoring the Super Point to make it 9-9.
A stunning save from Kochi libero, Hari Prasad led to Prabagaran landing a crucial spike and he was in action again, scoring the Super Point with an angled spike as Kochi fought strongly in the fourth set. David Lee got the Blue Spikers on the brink of a set point but a couple of good points from Chennai cut the lead down to one point. A mistake from Akhin GS got the Blue Spikers their second set win at 15-13 and in turn, make it 2-2 on the night.
The deciding set saw a closely fought contest as was expected from the two sides. Chennai took a 3-1 lead but the Kochi side came back with three continuous points to make it 4-4 in the early exchanges. A couple of errors from the Chennai side saw them take a 7-5 lead in the set and a Mujeeb spike took them into the technical timeout with an 8-6 score in their favour.
Naveen Raja Jacob committed an error and Rudy Verhoeff cost Chennai the Super Point and thus, allowing the Kochi side to take a sizeable 11-6 lead in the critical set. Chennai's lead spikers, Akhin GS and Rudy Verhoeff pulled back the deficit to three points at 12-9 and made things interesting. David Lee produced an innovative spike to get the set point for Kochi and it was Praveen Kumar who landed the critical spike as the block from Chennai went wide off the mark. Kochi Blue Spikers completed a stunning comeback from two sets down to win the match with a 15-10 final set win.
Impact Player - Rudy Verhoeff (Chennai Spartans)
The Canadian international, Rudy Verhoeff, was in brilliant form throughout the match as he amassed 20 points, which included 17 spike points and 3 blocks. He was the key man from the outside for the Spartans, landing his thundering spikes with efficiency.
Kochi Blue Spikers played their last league match today in front of their home crowd. Chennai Spartans will resume action a few days later when the league moves to the new venue in Chennai and face U Mumba Volley.