The final league encounter of the RuPay Pro Volleyball League 2019 saw the U Mumba Volley side take on the Ahmedabad Defenders at the Jawaharlal Nehru Indoor Stadium in Chennai, Tamil Nadu.
U Mumba Volley put on a dominating show defeating the Ahmedabad Defenders by a 4-1 margin (10-15, 15-12, 15-13, 15-12, 15-8) and thus, confirmed their position in the final four of the RuPay Pro Volleyball League.
U Mumba Volley's, Vinit Kumar was the star of the match for the side, picking up 19 points, with 11 spikes, 3 blocks and 5 serve points in a solid all-round display. The skipper, Deepesh Kumar Sinha, supported him ably with a haul of 15 points, which included 11 spike points. Ahmedabad Defenders' overseas import, Viktor Sysoev was the leading scorer for the side with 13 points which included 11 spike points by the Russian international.
U Mumba Volley came into this crucial fixture with the aim to win and secure their spot in the final four of the competition. Ahmedabad Defenders were playing for pride and to avoid their fifth consecutive loss.
The first set began competitively as both the sides scored in tandem with spikes flowing from Mandeep Singh (Ahmedabad Defenders) and Pankaj Sharma (U Mumba Volley). U Mumba Volley had the lead at 7-5 but a flurry of errors from their players saw the Defenders overtake them and score five points in a row to make it 10-7 against them. U Mumba got back close again with a couple of strong spikes from Vinit Kumar including a Super Point to cut the lead down to one point.
Ahmedabad Defenders called a Super Point of their own on the next play and Mandeep Singh was on target again to gain the lead back for them. Two more errors from U Mumba players sealed the set for the Defenders at 15-10 which meant U Mumba trailed 0-1 in the match.
U Mumba recovered well after the first set mishap and started the second one on a positive note as Deepesh Kumar Sinha and Vinit Kumar provided them a lead of 7-3 in quick time with spikes and blocks aplenty. They led 8-5 going into the technical timeout and looked in prime position to level the match at one set apiece.
Despite losing the Super Point to Ahmedabad Defenders, U Mumba maintained their advantage in the set as the skipper landed thundering spikes from the middle blocker position. The errors were allowing the Defenders to come back in the set but Vinit Kumar and Sinha ensured U Mumba won the second set at 15-12 to make it 1-1 in the tie.
U Mumba continued their winning momentum into the third set as a couple of blocks from Vinit Kumar and Deepesh Kumar Sinha got them the early lead and Saqlain Tariq got them 4-0 ahead with a Super Serve point. Mandeep Singh and Viktor Sysoev picked up a couple of spike points but Nicholas Del Bianco was effective on blocks as well as spikes to hand U Mumba an 8-2 lead at the technical timeout.
Ahmedabad Defenders' overseas star, Novika Bjelica kept them in the hunt in the third set with a spike point and a serve to follow it up as they cut the lead down to four at 11-7 after Prince had scored two timely spike points.
A strong run of play from Viktor Sysoev saw him pick up five points in quick time including a Super Point and a service point as the Defenders gave U Mumba a tough fight. In the end, it was the reliable duo of Deepesh Kumar Sinha and Vinit Kumar who sealed the third set for the U Mumba Volley side at 15-13 to take a 2-1 advantage in the match.
The fourth set of the match began with the Ahmedabad Defenders starting out well with two quick points but surrendered their lead as Pankaj Sharma produced his strong service game to take U Mumba to a 5-2 lead with three points on the trot. Dilip Koiwal and Nicholas Del Bianco produced a couple of spike points for their respective sides as U Mumba led 8-4 going into the technical timeout.
Victor Sysoev won another Super Point for the Ahmedabad Defenders to keep the pressure on the Mumbaikars. Gurinder Singh and Vaishnav supported him to close the gap down to three points on the board at 12-9. However, a couple of errors from Sysoev allowed the U Mumba side to get the set point and Nicholas Del Bianco got the crucial block point to wrap up the set and match for his team. U Mumba Volley won the set with a 15-12 and took an unassailable lead of 3-1 in the match.
The final set of the match began with a service error from Pankaj Sharma as Ahmedabad Defenders quickly sprung into a 5-2 lead after spike points from Dilip Koiwal, Rajat Badolia and Sayyad Mubarak Ali who got a Super Serve point. Vinit Kumar produced one of the finest runs of the tournament as he scored three continuous service points after a spike to get five points for his side and take them into a 7-5 lead.
This seemed to have dented the spirit of the Ahmedabad Defenders as it was one-way traffic from that point on. Prince added a couple of spike points and Hardeep Singh got a Super Point to extend U Mumba's lead to 13-6 in the final set. It was a great moment as U Mumba skipper, Deepesh Kumar Sinha landed the final point of the match with a well-timed block to capture the last set at 15-8.
U Mumba Volley won the match with a 4-1 set margin and sealed their spot in the semifinals, leapfrogging the Black Hawks Hyderabad on the final standings due to better set difference.
Impact Player - Vinit Kumar (U Mumba Volley)
U Mumba's Vinit Kumar was the key man alongside skipper Deepesh Kumar Sinha for the side. Kumar was effective from the outside hitting position, landing timely spike points and was a threat from the service line as well, scoring one Super Serve. He finished with a match-high tally of 19 points.
U Mumba Volley will take on table-toppers, Calicut Heroes tomorrow in the first semifinal clash as the knockout phase commences in the RuPay Pro Volleyball League.Published 18 Feb 2019, 23:20 IST