KOCHI: IS it sports or entertainment? The Pro Volleyball League is more of sportainment, where entertainment value tops the agenda. New rules are brought in to make the league more appealing and along with laser lights, drums and loud music, this is the T20 of volleyball. Purists may have reservations when it comes to these alterations and players are still getting a hang of it. But organisers say that the idea is to generate interest — especially among the TV audience.
On Monday, Black Hawks Hyderabad beat Ahmedabad Defenders 3-2 (15-11, 13-15,15-11, 14-15, 15-9) at the Rajiv Gandhi Indoor Stadium. The game went down to the wire where the new rules made a difference.
Five sets mandatory
This is one of the major tweaks. It’s not the standard best of five sets anymore. The teams have to play all five sets even if they are 3-0 up. If a team wins 5-0, they earn three points while any other win will yield two. In the opening match, Kochi Spikers were leading 3-0, ensuring victory. They also took the fourth set. But U Mumba Volley denied them three points by winning the fifth.
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In the second match, Calicut Heroes won by the same scoreline and bagged two points. The anticipation and thrill of whether a team can pull off a 5-0 rout is the reason behind this innovation.
Super point is a concept that players are yet to get a hang of. Out of the six teams who have played so far, Kochi Spikers were the team who couldn’t get their Super point strategy right. Firmly in control of most of the sets, they called for Super point, where winning the point will yield two. Losing it will hand the opponents a point, while you concede a point.
“These are new rules for us. They make the game interesting. At the international level, it’s different but we have to get used to it,” Kochi Spikers captain Mohan Ukkrapandian said after the game against U Mumba Volley. In the match between Black Hawks Hyderabad and Ahmedabad Defenders, this rule came into play multiple times, especially in the second set. It turned out to be the second closest set at 15-13, which eventually went in favour of Ahmedabad.
This is the hardest one to pull off. Super serve is, in essence, an ace where the ball shouldn’t hit a rival player. A successful one gives the team two points and doesn’t involve risks like that of the Super point.
Only a few have pulled it off so far. Karthik A and Jerome of Calicut Heroes and Ahmedabad’s Dilip Koiwal and Amit Kumar managed to do so. “Normally, I wouldn’t like the two-point system but tonight I liked it,” Hyderabad captain Carson Clark said.