With the final set of matches scheduled to come off on Wednesday, the guessing game continued over identifying the topper on the penultimate day in the second leg of the Panimalar-SAIL-Indian Volley League (IVL) on Tuesday.
Picking up the threads that saw Chennai Spikers win its first match in three outings on Monday, the home team figured in a nerve-wracking five games to coast to its second victory against Kerala Killers.
The contest witnessed at least two games move into extra points, including the decider that Spikers claimed at 17-15.
Almost everyone contributed to putting across, probably the most entertaining tie in the championship so far.
If Chennai Spikers eventually emerged winner after long drawn encounter, it was largely on account of the superb playmaker role by Kapil Dev.
It was Kapil's perfect setters that galvanized the team into action as both Prabhakar and Mandeep Singh tore into the rival defence with impeccable smashes. The contribution of veteran skipper, Nadarajan cannot be minimized for the part he played in the back court that included a few acrobatic retrievals.
The Kerala Killers was almost there till the last second when Naveen Raja, easily the most conspicuous spiker on view, landed one into the net that swayed the scales against the team. Every time Chennai surged ahead, the Killers swerved back. Probably, Chennai's would have profited more had not Karthikeyan injured a ligament while attempting a smash. He had to be carried off the court for medical attention.
It was even going till 9-9 in the decider and Kerala looked like tightening its grip leading 13-12. Chennai levelled at 13-13 and again at 15-15. Then came the two crucial points for Chennai to take its tally to four and come abreast with Kerala Killers.
Yanam Tigers posts win
Adding a twist to the championship honours was the victory that Yanam Tigers recorded over Hyderabad Chargers who began the competition with a touch of authority registering two victories.
The defeat — the second in a row-has an added an element of uncertainty to its placing in the table. Yanam Tigers fully deserved its triumph after conceding the opening game.
The man behind the outcome for Tigers was Tom Joseph. Whether in blocking or in spiking, his command was impressive. With a jump that stood pronounced in every shot, Tom caught the eye throughout in the encounter and played a prominent part in shutting out the rhythm of the rival. Soundar added a little more punch with a few smashes as did Subba Rao in his interceptions at the net.
After a promising start thanks to the good work by Lalit Kumar and Sube Singh, the Hyderabad Chargers progressively lost the fire as the opponent took command of the situation. Too many errors in the midcourt rendered all the hard work of Gurvinder Singh and Lavmeet Kataria futile.
All the six teams ended the penultimate day with four points each.
The results: Yanam Tigers bt Hyderabad Chargers 25-23, 22-25, 25-22, 25-19; Chennai Spikers bt Kerala Killers 25-23, 25-27, 25-21, 16-25, 17-15; Maratha Warriors bt Karnataka Bulls 25-13, 25-18, 25-20.
Wednesday's matches: Hyderabad Chargers v Maratha Warriors (2-30 p.m.); Kerala Killers v Karnataka Bulls (4 p.m.); Chennai Spikers v Yanam Tigers (5-30 p.m.).