ACING IT IN ASIA
From Chennai to Taipei, the incredible journey of Chennai Spartans have has been nothing short of awe-inspiring, putting Indian volleyball on the world map with a stellar showing in the 2019 Asian Men’s Club Volleyball Championships.<br><br><br>On the biggest night of volleyball in India, the Chennai Spartans pulled off a straight sets victory against the hot favourites Calicut Heroes in the final of the inaugural RuPay Pro Volleyball League. Since then, they’ve proved their big-game performance to be no fluke. Going deep into the Asian Men’s Club Volleyball Championships, becoming the first Indian team to reach the semi-final stage, Chennai Spartans have indeed made the Indian volleyball fans dream. <br><br><br>MH Kumara, the Championship winning coach said his team knew how to bounce back after a defeat in the last presser after the RuPay PVL final. Perhaps this was Chennai’s biggest strength as once again they lifted themselves up from a straight sets defeat in the very first round of the Asian Men’s Club Volleyball Championship against TNZ Kazhrom, the team from Kazakhstan. From then on, they won five games on the trot. Their dogged spirit pulled them through a thrilling game in the second game of the Preliminary round game against the Thai team, EST Cola. The game went down to the deciding set where the Spartans held their nerve, winning 15-9. The third match, against Al-Rayyan of Qatar, was again a thriller and the Spartans’ nerves of steel helped them clinch the game. <br><br><br>After favorable results, they qualified for the Classification round where they faced Taichung Bank, the hosts. The men in yellow once again found themselves needing to dig deep after dropping the first and third, trailing 1-2. A collective performance saw them blaze through the next two sets and win the match 3-2. The next game was against Australian side Queensland Pirates. This time the Spartans leveled up and buried the game in three sets and subsequently became the first Indian side to enter the semis. <br><br><br>Shahrdari Varamin of Iran, the former Asian Club Volleyball champions were Spartans’ semi-final opponents. The first set was a close one in which the, Spartans were edged out 23-25. The 2014 champions showed their mettle, winning the second set as well 25-19. The Spartans needed a miracle at this point and like they’ve done previously, they found a way in the third set and won it 25-22. The resurgent Spartans were neck-and-neck with the Iranian side in the fourth set as well, but fell agonizingly short, losing in sudden death 25-27 in an absolute cliffhanger. <br><br><br>The loss meant the Spartans ended up in the in the play-off for the Bronze medal where they faced Al-Rayyan Club of Qatar once again. However the Spartans couldn’t repeat their first round heroics as they lost in straight sets and had to settle for a fourth-place finish. Despite that loss though, the Spartans magical run could be the start of something special for Indian volleyball.
RuPay Pro Volleyball League
An initiative of Baseline Ventures India Pvt. Ltd and Volleyball Federation of India, RuPay Pro Volleyball League aims to transform the sporting landscape of the country by elevating the world’s fifth most popular sport to the league of the most followed sports in the coming times. The first season of the league will see 6 teams playing a total of 18 matches in Chennai and Kochi, and will be broadcasted on Sony Six, Sony Ten 3 and online platform Sony Liv.
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