The Calicut Heroes continued their blazing form as they registered a dominating 3-0 win over U Mumba Volley in the first semifinal to book their spot in the grand finale of the RuPay Pro Volleyball League 2019.
With wins in all of their league stage matches, Calicut Heroes came into the semifinals brimming with confidence. On the other hand, U Mumba Volley qualified into the knockout stages at the very end with two wins in their last two league games.
The Heroes started off the match in fine fashion as the attackers came to the fore to give their team a 3-1 lead until U Mumba skipper Deepesh Sinha pulled things back with an all-round show to reduce the lead to a solitary point.
However, a couple of spikes from Heroes' skipper Jerome Vinith and foreign import Iluoni Ngampourou helped the Heroes gain an 8-6 lead before Pankaj Sharma's spike on the Super Point again brought the lead down to one point.
A couple of errors from Jerome Vinith equalised the scores at 10-10. Costly errors from U Mumba gave the Heroes a 13-11, a lead they held on to and to win the opening set 15-12
In the second set, the two teams exchanged points till Ajith Lal and Ngampourou helped the Heroes take a 3-point lead. Consecutive errors from the Heroes saw the lead come down to a single point as U Mumba Volley sniffed a slight comeback.
Vinit Kumar's error on the Super Point saw his spike land out of bounds and a successive mistake from Pankaj Sharma gave the Heroes a hat-trick of points at which they held on till the end and closed the set at 15-9.
Faced with a challenge of saving the match, U Mumba started strong in the third set as they raced away to a 3-1 lead which then swelled to 7-4 through Tomislav Coskovic. Pankaj Sharma's block to deny Ajith Lal a point took U Mumba's lead to 9-5. Despite trailing 12-7, the Heroes showed why they are the team to beat this season as they rallied to not only cut the deficit, but also level the scores. Sinha's error helped matters for the Heroes while a Super Serve from Vineeth restored parity.
At 14-14, the U Mumba defenders had no answer to Karthik A's deadly serve while Vinit Kumar's swat-spike landed out of bounds to trigger wild celebrations in the Calicut Heroes camp as they became the first team to qualify for the finals of the inaugural RuPay Pro Volleyball League.
Impact Player - Jerome Vinith (Calicut Heroes)
The Heroes' skipper was in scintillating form right through the match as his searing spikes failed to find a response from the U Mumba Volley defenders. Vinith was in top nick in all three sets as he picked four points in each of the sets to emerge as the top scorer.
The undefeated Calicut Heroes will now await the winner of the second semi-final between Kochi Blue Spikers and Chennai Spartans in the final, scheduled to be played on 22nd February.