Prime Volleyball League 2023 - News

Kolkata Thunderbolts celebrate (source:

Kolkata Thunderbolts celebrate

Reigning champions Kolkata Thunderbolts started the defence of their Prime Volleyball League title in the best possible way, winning all three of their matches in the first phase of the season, which took place over the last nine days in the city of Bengaluru. The Indian professional league’s regular season is contested in a unique format, with all matches played in five sets to 15 points.

In the season opener on February 4, the Thunderbolts won the first three sets against hosts Bengaluru Torpedoes, only to allow their opponents to win the next two. With 31-year-old opposite Vinit Kumar leading the way with 13 points, the squad from Kolkata celebrated a 3-2 (15-11, 15-11, 15-14, 10-15, 14-15) victory, garnished with a total of five serving points against none for the home team. The Torpedoes’ new Bulgarian addition, outside hitter Tsvetelin Tsvetanov produced the very first point of the season with a successful spike, while opposite Jose Ibin was Bengaluru’s leading scorer with 12 points, including five kill blocks.

Kolkata were more emphatic in their next two games, but lost the fifth sets on both occasions to stop short of winning three points with a 5-0 whitewash. On Wednesday, the Thunderbolts defeated Hyderabad Black Hawks by 4-1 (15-13, 15-7, 15-9, 15-12, 8-15). Vinit Kumar was once again the best scorer of the match with 15 points, registering an ace and a 78% success rate in attack, and earned the Player of the Match nomination. His teammates, K Rahul and Rai Ashwal impressed with their blocking efforts. Rahul produced five stuffs towards a match tally of 13 points, while Ashwal added three kill blocks towards a total of 12 points. Guru Prashanth made 14 points for Hyderabad. By the end of the week he had tallied a total of 44 points in three matches to lead the best scorers’ ranking of the league.

On Sunday, in the last match on the Bengaluru programme, the Thunderbolts mastered a 4-1 (15-9, 15-11, 15-14, 15-11, 12-15) victory over Kochi Blue Spikers with Rahul hammering out 17 points, including five blocks and three aces, to emerge as his team’s best and the league’s second best scorer so far on 39 points. His record includes 13 stuffs, which puts him on top of the best blockers’ chart of the first tournament. Opposite Shubham Chaudhary was Kochi’s best scorer of the match with 13 points.

“I am feeling very well. We had a very good preparation and all of us played very well,” Rahul said after receiving the Player of the Match award.

Calicut Heroes were the other team to stay unbeaten after the first week of the regular season, but they had only two games to play in Bengaluru. With a 15-point match high, including four blocks, from their Cuban middle Jose Antonio Sandoval, named Player of the Match, the Heroes started off with a 4-1 (10-15, 15-9, 15-8, 15-14, 15-11) comeback victory over league rookies Mumbai Meteors on February 5. Last Saturday, they claimed another four sets in the match against Hyderabad on the way to a 4-1 (15-14, 15-12, 15-11, 4-15, 15-14) win. This time, opposite Jerome Vinith was Calicut’s leading scorer on 10 points and outside Ashwin Raj was named Player of the Match, while Black Hawks’ Prashanth topped the charts with 14 points.

“It was a great performance. And we enjoyed it a lot because of the fans,” said Raj.

Prime Volleyball League newcomers Mumbai Meteors claimed the only whitewash of the season so far. On Friday, they hammered out a 5-0 (15-14, 15-6, 15-11, 15-12, 15-9) sweep of Chennai Blitz to claim their first three points towards the standings. Outside hitters Anu James and Hardeep Singh contributed 14 and 12 points, respectively, towards the team’s first-ever win in the league, with the former named Player of the Match. Despite losing their two other matches in Bengaluru, the Meteors climbed to third place in the standings with three points, just below leaders Kolkata with six and second-placed Calicut with four.

Tournament hosts Bengaluru Torpedoes come next in the table, in fourth place with two points and a 1-2 win-loss record. After losing their first two matches, they finished the week on a high note, pleasing the home crowd with a 4-1 (15-10, 12-15, 15-13, 15-9, 15-9) victory over Mumbai. Tsvetelin Tsvetanov delivered the match high of 17 points, including two aces, to claim the Player of the Match nomination.

Before that, on Thursday, and despite another 17-point match high from the Bulgarian outside, the Torpedoes lost to Ahmedabad Defenders in a nail-biting rollercoaster game. The Defenders won by 3-2 (14-15, 15-10, 14-15, 15-10, 15-10) to celebrate their first victory of the season and the fifth place in the current standings.

Hyderabad also picked up a win in Bengaluru, defeating Ahmedabad by 3-2 (13-15, 15-9, 15-14, 15-11, 10-15) last Monday, with 16 points from Prashanth and four kill blocks from Australian international Trent O'Dea, enough for sixth place in the table for now.

Tuesday’s competition day also featured a nip-and-tuck battle, in which Chennai managed a 3-2 (15-9, 11-15, 15-10, 8-15, 15-9) win over Kochi Blue Spikers. They finished the week in seventh place on two points and a 1-1 win-loss record, leaving Kochi in eighth as the only winless team so far on zero points and 0-2.

After a two-day break, Prime Volleyball League action will resume on Wednesday in Hyderabad, where the next 10 matches of the regular season will be played over a seven-day period, from February 15 through 21.

RuPay Prime Volleyball League Powered by A23 - Second leg schedule in Hyderabad:

Feb 15, 19:00 local time (13:30 UTC): Hyderabad Blackhawks v Kochi Blue Spikers

Feb 16, 19:00 local time (13:30 UTC): Bengaluru Torpedoes v Chennai Blitz

Feb 16, 21:30 local time (16:00 UTC): Kolkata Thunderbolts v Calicut Heroes

Feb 17, 19:00 local time (13:30 UTC): Ahmedabad Defenders v Mumbai Meteors

Feb 17, 21:30 local time (16:00 UTC): Bengaluru Torpedoes v Kochi Blue Spikers

Feb 18, 19:00 local time (13:30 UTC): Hyderabad Blackhawks v Chennai Blitz

Feb 19, 19:00 local time (13:30 UTC): Ahmedabad Defenders v Chennai Blitz

Feb 20, 19:00 local time (13:30 UTC): Kolkata Thunderbolts v Mumbai Meteors

Feb 20, 21:30 local time (16:00 UTC): Ahmedabad Defenders v Calicut Heroes

Feb 21, 19:00 local time (13:30 UTC): Hyderabad Blackhawks v Bengaluru Torpedoes