Beacon Sports-owned franchise Calicut Heroes had a topsy-turvy campaign in the inaugural edition of RuPay Prime Volleyball League Powered by A23.

Under the tutelage of popular ex volleyball player from Kerala Kishor Kumar, Calicut Heroes reached the semifinals in the inaugural edition where they lost to eventual champions Kolkata Thunderbolts.

The Heroes started their season with back-to-back defeats. In the first game they succumbed to a 13-15, 15-12, 10-15, 15-12, 13-15 defeat against Kolkata Thunderbolts and lost again to the Ahmedabad Defenders 15-12, 11-15, 15-10, 12-15, 11-15.

The team led by their talismanic captain Jerome Vinith, bounced back strongly to beat the Bengaluru Torpedoes 15-12, 15-12, 15-9, 14-15, 15-13 to secure their first win of the tournament. The joy was short lived as they lost the next game against the Chennai Blitz 14-15, 9-15, 14-15, 15-10, 15-12 in their fourth outing of the season.

Heading into the highly anticipated Kerala Derby, the team was under massive pressure. The Heroes held onto their nerves and played inspirational volleyball to beat their cross-town rivals, 15-12, 15-9, 9-15, 9-15, 15-11.

The final game for the Heroes was against the home team, Hyderabad Black Hawks. To qualify for the semifinals, the team needed not only to win but win as a washout which would give them an extra bonus point. Inspired by double Olympic medalist David Lee, the Calicut Heroes put in a performance of the ages and swept the home team in only the second washout of the season to qualify for the finals. The final set score was 15-14, 15-10, 15-14, 15-14, 15-9.

Upon the culmination of the league stage, the Calicut Heroes finished third with three wins and as many losses, and advanced into the semifinals.

That is where the season finished for the team from Kerala. Losing the first two sets against the Kolkata Thunderbolts, the Heroes were up by 8 points in the 3rd set when from nowhere the team capitulated in disastrous circumstances to lose the set and the match in one of volleyball’s most shocking comebacks. The final set score in the semifinals was 14-16, 10-15, 15-17 ending their Season 1 campaign on a disappointing note.

For the Calicut Heroes, captain Jerome Vinith led from the front as he ended the season with an astonishing 77 points along with an attack success rate of 45.3%.

For RuPay Prime Volleyball League Powered by A23 Season 2, the Heroes are the only team which opted to not use their full quota of three retentions. They have retained only two players, skipper Jerome Vinith and outside hitter Abil Krishnan.

The team have acquired the services of Cuban middle-blocker Jose Antonio Sandoval Rojas and USA attacker Matt Hilling from the international players draft to bolster their squad.

Amongst the Indian contingent, the franchise has already signed M Ashwin Raj, Prabakaran, Chirag Yadav, Mohan Ukkrapandian, Lavmeet Katariya, Shafeeque Rahman, Sushil Kumar and Ansab O for the upcoming edition of RuPay Prime Volleyball League Powered by A23.

With a much-improved squad on paper, the Jerome Vinith-led Calicut Heroes will aim to win the second edition of RuPay Prime Volleyball League Powered by A23 which is scheduled to commence on February 4 next year.

Calicut Heroes squad for PVL Season 2

Matt Hilling (I), Jose Antonio Sandoval Rojas (I), M Ashwin Raj, Prabakaran, Chirag Yadav, Mohan Ukkrapandian, Lavmeet Katariya, Shafeeque Rahman, Sushil Kumar, Ansab O, Abil Krishnan (R), Jerome Vinith (R)

I = International ; R = Retained