The RuPay Pro Volleyball League commenced on 2nd February at the Rajiv Gandhi Indoor Stadium in Kochi as the Kochi Blue Spikers faced off against U Mumba Volley in the opening encounter.
It is the first volleyball league of its kind in India and is the brainchild of the Volleyball Federation of India (VFI) and Baseline Ventures Pvt. Ltd.
In the first match of the league, the Kochi Blue Spikers defeated U Mumba Volley in a commanding display, winning four sets out of the five to start off the league on a bright note.
The first set was won by the Kochi Blue Spikers 15-11, courtesy of strong all-around game from their attackers and blockers. Skipper, Mohan Ukkrapandian was on his best form setting up spikes for Rohith P and Manu Joseph to attack. U Mumba Volley let Kochi take the lead early on
in the set but came back with intent, winning the Super Point as Prince won the point with a powerful spike. However, Kochi maintained the lead and a cheeky drop by Rohith P won the set for them.
The second set was a closely contested affair as the two sides showed defensive resilience with timely blocks. Kochi was in the lead for the initial minutes but U Mumba fought their way back to close it down. They got another Super Point right as Ukkrapandian fudged his service. The tie was close right till the end but Nicholas Del Bianco missed the serve to hand Kochi the second set 15-13.
Kochi Blue Spikers continued their dominant show in the third set opening a big gap on the scoreboard. They used the Super Point two times successfully as Manu Joseph, Andrej Patuc and David Lee excelled for the Blue Spikers. Ukkrapandian was the key man for them with his perfect set-ups. Kochi won the third set with a 15-8 scoreline.
Carrying on their winning momentum, Kochi won the fourth set, inflicting more misery on the U Mumba side. Manu Joseph continued to land his spikes, beating the U Mumba defence, as they wrapped up the set at 15-10.
The U Mumba side looked confident in the final set of the match as they showed fighting spirit to avoid a whitewash on the opening night. They built up a commanding lead from the get-go and maintained the momentum with good attacking play. U Mumba won the final set with a 15-8 score to salvage some pride.
Impact Player - Manu Joseph (Kochi Blue Spikers)
Kochi Blue Spikers' universal, Manu Joseph was in fine form throughout the match playing the role of outside hitter with great efficiency. He finished with a total of 15 points which included 14 spike points.
The next matches for the two sides respectively will see U Mumba Volley take on Calicut Heroes on February 5 while Kochi Blue Spikers will face Ahmedabad Defenders on February 6.