Kolkata, Calicut and Bengaluru join Ahmedabad into the last four in India

Just one game away from the end of India’s RuPay Prime Volleyball League powered by A23 regular season, the list of semifinalists was finalized. The results of the three matches played so far this week at the Regional Sports Centre (Rajiv Gandhi Indoor Stadium) in Kochi pointed to Kolkata Thunderbolts, Calicut Heroes and Bengaluru Torpedoes as the three teams to join Ahmedabad Defenders, who qualified last week, among the best four of the second season.

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Any win over Chennai Blitz on Monday would have booked Kolkata’s spot in the semifinals. The defending 2022 champions were quick to secure their success in the first three sets of the match and went on to shape up a 4-1 (15-12, 15-9, 15-14, 15-13, 10-15) victory, their fifth in six matches, and improve to 10 points in second place of the standings. Opposite Vinit Kumar was named Player of the Match after leading Thunderbolts’ scorers with 15 points, including two blocks. Chennai’s outside hitter Raman Kumar produced a match-high 16 points, including two blocks and two aces. Chennai finished the season bottom of the table on two points and a 1-6 win-loss record.

In the week’s most important match, Calicut and Bengaluru went head to head on Tuesday. While Heroes needed to win two sets to advance, Torpedoes had to achieve a 4-1 win or better to book their ticket to the semifinals. Bengaluru won the first two sets, but then Calicut fought back to level the score and breathe easier in the fifth. Bengaluru’s 3-2 (15-11, 15-11, 13-15, 10-15, 15-14) victory was enough for them to overtake Hyderabad Black Hawks in the fourth place in the standings, but to celebrate as semifinalists, Torpedoes had to wait for the result of Wednesday’s game. Their opposite Ibin Jose, who hammered four serving points towards a total of 11 points in the match, earned the Player of the Match award, while his counterpart on Heroes’ side Jerome Vinith mastered the match high of 21 points. Both teams finished the regular season on eight points and a 4-2 win-loss record and were separated on set ratio with Calicut taking third place in the table.

Rookies Mumbai Meteors had a shot at pushing Bengaluru out of the way to take their place among the best four, but they needed a 5-0 whitewash in Wednesday’s game against third leg hosts Kochi Blue Spikers. The result of the very first set of the match, however, put an end to their hopes and set off the Bengaluru Torpedoes celebrations. Kochi went on to win the game by 4-1 (15-14, 15-11, 15-12, 12-15, 15-10) and finished the season on a high note in front of the home fans. Mumbai’s Cuban outside Hiroshi Centelles was the best scorer of the match with 12 points to his name, but the Player of the Match award went to Kochi’s outside Rohit Kumar. Both teams finished on a 2-5 win-loss record, but since one of Meteors’ victories was a 5-0 whitewash and brought them three points, they finished sixth on five points, leaving Blue Spikers in seventh on four.

Thursday’s closing match of the regular season will simply determine the order at the very top of the table. As both sides stand on a 5-1 win-loss record, the winners of the Ahmedabad v Kolkata clash, a remake of last year’s final, will top the final standings, while the losers will progress to the semis as runners-up. The game starts at 19:00 local time (13:30 UTC).

The RuPay Prime Volleyball League powered by A23 is telecast live on Sony Sports Ten 1 (English), Sony Sports Ten 3 (Hindi), Sony Sports Ten 4 (Tamil and Telugu) and Sony Sports Ten 2 (Malayalam) channels in India and is streamed on **VBTV** outside the Indian subcontinent.


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