India’s new champions book a Club World Championship spot

Calicut Heroes’ Jet Jerome and Chirag Yadav celebrate as champions

Calicut Heroes triumphed as the third champions of India’s RuPay Prime Volleyball League powered by A23 and booked their spot at the 2024 FIVB Volleyball Men’s Club World Championship as the host nation’s representative. In Thursday’s final of PVL 2024, Calicut Heroes produced a four-set victory over league rookies Delhi Toofans. Led by their captain Jerome Vinith Charles, nicknamed Jet Jerome, they lined up after 2022 winners Kolkata Thunderbolts and 2023 winners Ahmedabad Defenders as the 2024 champions of the innovative competition.

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In the trophy showdown at the sold-out SDAT multi-purpose 5,000-seater indoor stadium in Chennai, Calicut delivered a 3-1 (15-13, 15-10, 13-15, 15-12) win over Delhi Toofans with a 16-point match high from Jerome. The 31-year-old opposite added one kill block to the 15 points he spiked at a 68% success rate in attack, including the championship winner, and earned the Player of the Match award. His counterpart on the other side of the net Manoj Kumar was Delhi’s best scorer of the final with eight points, also including one kill block.

“I don’t have a word for this moment! I am very happy! We are champions! It’s the first time for Calicut and for many days we can enjoy this moment,” said Calicut’s Brazilian outside hitter Luiz Perotto, who was awarded with the Game Changer of the Match nomination.

In what was a very even and hard-fought season, Calicut Heroes emerged on top of the first round-robin stage standings on a 6-2 win-loss record, edging second-placed Delhi Toofans on set difference. These two teams were joined by the next three in the table – defending champions Ahmedabad Defenders, Bengaluru Torpedoes and Mumbai Meteors (each finishing on 5-3) – into the second round-robin stage, the so-called Super 5s, while the season ended for the remaining four teams – tournament hosts Chennai Blitz (4-4), Kolkata Thunderbolts (3-5), Kochi Blue Spikers (1-7) and Hyderabad Black Hawks (1-7).

The Super 5s stage was even more balanced as each of the five teams took two wins and conceded two losses. This way, Calicut Heroes finished on top of the standings to advance directly to the final, while runners-up Delhi Toofans and third-placed Ahmedabad Defenders moved on to a semifinal match, dubbed the Eliminator. On Tuesday, the squad from the capital persevered through a thrilling five-set rollercoaster to celebrate a 3-2 (15-9, 10-15, 10-15, 15-12, 17-15) victory, dethrone last year’s champions and advance to Thursday’s final showdown against Calicut Heroes.

A spectacular awarding ceremony after the end of the final climaxed with Calicut Heroes receiving their first champions’ trophy. Before that, Jet Jerome was honoured as the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the season headlining a number of individual awards presented to the season’s best.

Jerome Vinith also picked up the Best Spiker award. He finished the season with 150 successful attacks towards a total of 161 points, which placed him on top of the best scorers’ chart of the league. While his teammate, outside Chirag Yadav, was named Emerging Player of the Season, the squad’s 37-year-old playmaker Mohan Ukkrapandian was recognized as the Best Setter.

“It feels very great! I’ve been waiting to win this championship for more than three years,” Ukkra exclaimed after the last whistle. “It’s a very good thing for Calicut Heroes and the players. We were not focusing on winning; we were just playing set by set and match by match…”

Two of Delhi’s players and their coach also received individual recognitions. Toofans’ Colombian middle Daniel Aponza was awarded as the Best Blocker of the league. He topped the charts with as many as 25 kill blocks during the season. Anand K took the prize for the Best Libero, while Manoj Nair was honoured as the Best Coach.

The Fair Play Team award went to Bengaluru Torpedoes.

2024 RuPay Prime Volleyball League powered by A23: all results


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