Chennai Spartans marches into semi-final

Chennai: Chennai Spartans defeated Ahmedabad Defendenders 4-1 (15-6, 13-15, 15-13, 15-11, 15-12) in their last league match to march into the semi-finals of the Pro Volleyball League, at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, here, Sunday.

With the win, Chennai has become the third team to seal a spot in the knockouts after Calicut Heroes and Kochi Blue Spikers. The day, however, belonged to Chennai’s foreign signing Rudy Verhoeff. The Canadian, who is the top-scorer in the tournament, notched up his third 20-pointer of the tournament, helping the side register its first victory in home, much to the delight of fans.

After suffering a defeat a day earlier against U Mumba Volley, Chennai Spartans came into the game knowing that only a win would take them into the semis.

Chennai began the first set positively and Naveen Raja Jacob’s serve at the start earned the home side three consecutive points to help them lead 4-1. A good display of blocks and spikes by Verhoeff and Ruslans later, helped the home side take an unassailable 11-5 lead, prompting the visitors to call a super point. However, it was Naveen, who produced a brilliant spike to help the home team snatch two points. Spartans then won the first set comfortably with the score 15-6.

Ahmedabad came back in the second set and started to dominate the proceedings. At one stage they were leading 7-2. However, Chennai reduced the deficit to 8-5 during the break. Chennai then won a super point to trail behind just by a solitary point. But a good team effort by Mandeep Singh, Gurinder Singh and Novika (2 spike points each) helped the Defenders win the second set.

Most part of the third set went neck-to-neck. At 9-9, Ahmedabad successfully won a super point to go 11-9. Chennai immediately called for a super point and Verhoeff’s spike won them the two decisive points. Chennai then took a 14-12 lead after Naveen and Verhoeff’s spike and finally another spike from Ruslans helped the home team win its second set.

The third set too was a very close contest however this time Chennai ensured they maintained lead throughout the set and once again it was the trio – Ruslans, Verhoeff and Naveen – who notched up points and ensured that Chennai won the set 15-11 and also the game that assured them a place in the playoffs. With the crowd in a state of delirium, the home side won the fifth set as well to register a 4-1 victory.

Aaditya Anand M