Jose Antonio Sandoval was adjudged the Player of the Match as Calicut Heroes overcame debutants Mumbai Meteors in a well-fought encounter on Sunday in their first game of the second season of RuPay Prime Volleyball League.
Much to the delight of a jam-packed crowd at the Koramangala Indoor Stadium here, the Calicut Heroes came back to pick up a thrilling 10-15, 15-9, 15-8, 15-14, 15-11 win over the Mumbai team to get two points from the contest.
Mumbai Meteors began their journey into the league with two quick points as Hiroshi Centelles put on consecutive perfect blocks to give his team an early lead. Jose Antonio Sandoval, with a deft touch over the net, put the ball in no man’s land on the opposition’s end as Calicut Heroes earned their first point of the game.
Minutes later, Brandon Greenway sent a powerful serve to which Heroes skipper Matt Hilling found no answer. Shameemudheen’s spike led to Mumbai extending their lead to 10-6 in the first set. With a super point on offer, Meteors made an error on the serve to give away two points to Calicut. But Meteors maintained their composure and with a spike from Anu James, the debutants won the first set 15-10.
Mumbai Meteors kept control of the momentum in the second set as well picking up the first point. But Calicut’s Sandoval tapped the ball over the net to get things back on level pegging. With a fantastic super-serve, Jerome Vinith put Heroes ahead to put pressure back on the opposition. With a powerful spike, Sandoval stunned Mumbai and put Calicut ahead with a 9-7 lead in the second set.
With a super point on offer, Meteors’ Hiroshi made an error allowing Heroes to further extend their lead. A block from M Ashwin Raj took Calicut with a touching distance of win in the second set. As Hiroshi’s serve struck the nets, Calicut Heroes won the second set 15-9.
Having found their rhythm, Calicut Heroes took an early lead in the third set, as Asham A. put his team ahead with a solid block. Sandoval struck a powerful spike to further keep the Kerala side ahead in the set. Just when it looked like the Heroes will take a comfortable lead, Brandon’s spike earned Mumbai a crucial point in the set.
But Shafeeque Rahman and Ashwin’s dual spikes ensured Calicut keep their lead at the break in the set. Having been put under pressure, Mumbai kept committing errors, allowing freebies to the opposition. Sandoval put on a picture-perfect block with a super point on offer, as Calicut won the third set 15-8 to take lead in the match.
Sandoval’s supreme form continued in the night in the second last set as he trapped the opposition with gorgeous blocks. Hiroshi’s block earned Mumbai a crucial point. A wayward spike from Anu gave away an easy point to Calicut. But a successful review call reduced the deficit for Mumbai in the set. Shameem’s erroneous serve increased Calicut’s lead to 9-5 in the set.
Winning the super point, followed by Karthik’s super serve, Mumbai Meteors opened up doors for a comeback. Sandoval came up with a delicious tap to get Calicut a crucial point as things began to get heated at the Koramangala Indoor Stadium. A deft touch from Ashwin brought Calicut Heroes to the match point, and Mohan Ukkrapandian put on a block to win the game for his team.
In the final set, a deflated Mumbai Meteors made consecutive errors to allow Calicut to take the lead. Sandoval only continued to become more threatening as the game progressed and he put Heroes three points ahead with a powerful spike in the fifth set. Vinith earned a stunning point with a monstrous serve for Calicut.
Mumbai Meteors made the basic error of getting four touches on the ball as the Heroes extended their lead to 10-5. Winning the super point, the Mumbai side reduced the gap, after which skipper Karthik put on a fantastic block to get another point for his side. But Calicut kept their composure and closed the set at 15-11, winning the match 4-1.