The RuPay Pro Volleyball League 2019 saw the first Kerala derby of the season as the two undefeated franchises - Kochi Blue Spikers and Calicut Heroes faced off today at the Rajiv Gandhi Indoor Stadium in Kochi, Kerala.
Calicut Heroes became the first team to win a match with a 5-0 set score as they grabbed the bragging rights against their local state rivals, Kochi Blue Spikers. Jerome Vinith starred for the Heroes with 16 points, ably supported by Karthik A (13 points) and Ajith Lal (10 points) alongside him.
The match began amidst high crowd support for both the sides as they began scoring in tandem in the initial points. However, the Calicut side edged ahead on the board after good blocks from Iluoni Ngamppourou.
Jerome Vinith produced a couple of strong spikes from the outside attacking position to take the Heroes into the timeout with an 8-4 lead. The Blue Spikers rallied back to cut the lead down as their foreign imports, David Lee and Andrej Patuc scored crucial points.
David Lee's error at the net on a Super Point allowed the Calicut Heroes to zoom to a 13-9 lead. Calicut's skipper, Jerome Vinith produced two stunning spikes either side of a Prabagaran point to wrap up the first set for the Heroes with a 15-11 score.
Calicut Heroes began the second set on a bright note running away to a 4-0 lead in quick time after two solid blocks thwarted away the Kochi side's attacking attempts. The Calicut side continued to produce thumping serves to put the Blue Spikers on the backfoot and led 8-1 at the end of the mid-set technical timeout.
Kochi Blue Spikers pulled back a couple of points in a bid to find their way back, however, the Heroes maintained their advantage with timely points. Kochi won a Super Point to get closer to their rivals but Jerome Vinith's spike was too hot to handle for them as the Calicut Heroes took a 2-0 lead in the match with a 15-9 set win.
It was a similar start to the third set for the Calicut Heroes as they took a 4-0 lead carrying the momentum into the crucial set. Praveen Kumar and Prabagaran pulled off some good points as they cut the lead down to two points. Suresh Khoiwal scored the Super Point to take the Blue Spikers even closer but an error from Prabagaran on the next Super Point called by the Heroes meant they retained the advantage.
Kochi Blue Spikers produced a fine run of play despite the Calicut Heroes having the set point to trim the Calicut lead down in the third set. David Lee and Rohith P were influential on the court for them to make it 14-14 on the scoreboard. However, the set was decided by Iluoni Ngampourou who rose the highest to land the critical spike as the Calicut Heroes wrapped up the match and set with a 15-14 win.
Having lost the match, Kochi Blue Spikers, playing for pride now, looked in good spirits early doors in the fourth set of the match. It was closely fought right from the first point as the teams forced each other into errors. Calicut Heroes led 8-7 at the end of the technical timeout as Karthik landed a strong spike from the middle court.
Kochi kept it tight on the board with a couple of spikes from K Praveen Kumar but Ajith Lal C fired back to get the set point for the Heroes. Iluoni Ngampourou proved his clutch nature again as he succeeded with his block to secure a 4-0 set lead for the Calicut Heroes in the match.
The Blue Spikers aimed to avoid a whitewash in the final set of the match, however, things didn't exactly pan out for them according to plan as Calicut Heroes ran away into a 6-3 lead with spikes from the big-hitters, Jerome Vinith and Ajith Lal. Kochi cut the deficit down by winning a Super Point but the Heroes jumped ahead again by calling a Super Point on the next play and winning it. They went into the technical timeout with a lead of 8-5.
David Lee and Prabagaran S pulled off a couple of good points at the net for the Heroes and just like that, the scoreline read 10-9. However, two errors from the Blue Spikers allowed Calicut to extend their lead to 12-9. Karthik won it for the Calicut Heroes with a Super Serve at 13-10 to complete a clean sweep over the Kochi Blue Spikers and ensure three points on the board.
Impact Player - Jerome Vinith (Calicut Heroes)
Calicut Heroes will take to the court again tomorrow as they face the Black Hawks Hyderabad whereas the Kochi Blue Spikers will face off against the Chennai Spartans day after tomorrow.