Chennai Spartans, on Sunday, qualified for the playoffs at the expense of Ahmedabad Defenders as they beat them 4-1 (15-6, 13-15, 15-13, 15-11,15-12) at the Nehru Indoor Stadium in Chennai.
Rudy Verhoeff scored 20 points (18 spikes and 2 serve points) in a match for the third time in this league. Verhoeff also topped the scorers’ chart with 80 points.
In the first set, Chennai raced to a 6-3 lead. Ruslans Sorokins and Verhoeff continued from where they left on Saturday. Sorokins and Verhoeff scored three points each including a Super Serve to help Chennai enter the first Technical Time Out (TTO) with a 9-3 lead.
After the TTO, Chennai kept the pressure up. Ahmedabad called for a Super Point at 5-11 but couldn’t take the advantage. Chennai closed the set 15-6 with a Naveen Raja Jacob spike.
Ahmedabad went up 4-0 in the second set. But Chennai pulled back and reduced the deficit to 5-7. But it was a Gurinder Singh spike, which helped Ahmedabad enter TTO with an 8-5 lead. After TTO, Chennai called for a Super Point and converted reducing the advantage to just one point for Ahmedabad. Both teams fought hard till the last point of the set. At 13-14, Jacob’s serve went out and Ahmedabad won the set 15-13.
In the third, from 6-6, Gurinder and Mandeep Singh helped Ahmedabad enter the TTO with a two-point lead. At 9-9, Ahmedabad called for a Super Point and converted with a GR Vaishnav spike. Chennai called for a Super Point and converted with a Verhoeff spike. Soon after, Jacob came up with a swinging serve and Chennai led for the first time in the set. At 14-13 Chennai had the set point and a Sorokins spike closed the set 15-13. Sorokins and Jacob scored 8 out of the 15 points for Chennai in the set.
Chennai carried the momentum from the third set and went into an 8-5 lead at TTO with Verhoeff leading the attack yet again. Ahmedabad called for a Super Point at 9-11 and failed to convert giving Chennai a four-point advantage. Chennai didn’t let the lead slip and won the set 15-11. Chennai led 3-1 at this point.
Chennai, by now, had already qualified for the playoffs. Inspite of that both teams battled fiercely in the last set. Chennai lead at TTO 8-7. Chennai called for a Super Point at 9-10 and converted. Ahmedabad did the same but failed to convert, giving Chennai at three-point advantage. Chennai closed the set 15-12 and the match 4-1.