PVL Season 3: Kochi Blue Spikers look for perfect mix of offence & defence

Kochi Blue Spikers
Volleyball enthusiasts in the state are hoping that head coach Vulicevic will be able to transform Spikers into a formidable team. Photo: X@KBS_VC ·

Kochi: The Joseph Pappan Memorial Indoor Stadium near the Varapuzha market on the outskirts of the city reverberated with booming spikes and loud thuds. Kochi Blue Spikers, the team representing Kochi in the Prime Volleyball League (PVL), have been training at the high-tech stadium under the watchful eyes of head coach Dejan Vulicevic for the past few weeks as part of their preseason camp ahead of the third edition of the league. 

"It is difficult to predict how far the team will go in the PVL. However, one thing is certain; Spikers will do their best and try to win the title. The team's strength lies in the potent attack. At the same time, we have enough quality players in every position," said Vulicevic, who hails from Serbia. 

Volleyball enthusiasts in the state are hoping that like Ivan Vukomanovic, another Serbian who revived the fortunes of Indian Super League side Kerala Blasters, Vulicevic will be able to transform Spikers into a formidable team. Remarkably, Vukomanovic, an ardent volleyball fan, had a key role in bringing Vulicevic to Kochi. 

Kerala derby 

The third edition of the PVL will kickstart in Chennai on February 15 (Thursday) with defending champion Ahmedabad Defenders taking on Chennai Blitz in the season opener. Spikers will begin their campaign on February 16 in a mouthwatering 'Kerala derby against Calicut Heroes.  

Spikers have eight Kerala-based players in their ranks, the most among the nine franchises in the PVL. Led by Aman Kumar, Erin Varghese, and George Antony, Spikers have a strong offensive line-up. Vulicevic believes he could find the right balance between experience and youth when building his team. 

The 43-year-old libero C K Ratheesh is the most senior member of the team. Attacker Aman Kumar, a native of Karnal in Haryana, is the most 'valuable' player in the side as Spikers roped him in for a record price of Rs 18 lakh in the auction held in December. Aman and Sameer Chaudhary, who was bought by Chennai Blitz for the same price, are the most expensive players of the PVL Season 3. 

"This is the first time I'm playing under a foreign coach. We have been training really hard for the last few weeks. Other than honing our attacking skills, the coach has been very particular about improving our reception techniques and defence as well," said Aman Kumar. 

According to Erin, one of the four players retained by Spikers, the team's defensive stability and offensive firepower are balanced well. "We have always been a great attacking team. However, the coach wants us to excel in defensive tactics as well. He believes that it is important to have a solid defence to win crucial points," added Erin.

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