Kochi Blue Spikers finished last in the inaugural edition of the Prime Volleyball League. The franchise from Kerala had a good time at the auctions buying two experienced players Rohit Kumar and Vipul Kumar (setter) who were part of the Hyderabad Black Hawks in the first season. Kochi Blue Tuskers has started PVL 2023 season 2 on a poor note losing to Chennai Blitz in their opening encounter followed by Kolkata Thunderbolts and Hyderabad Black Hawks.

Khel Now got an opportunity to talk with Rohit Kumar and Vipul Kumar ahead of Prime Volleyball League season 2, PVL 2023.

Rohit Kumar

Rohit Kumar played for Hyderabad Black Hawks in the inaugural season but injuries played their part with Rohit having to sit out for the majority of the games. He has been with the Indian team for the past few years and was also part of the 2018 Asian Games held in Indonesia.

Price Tag Pressure?

Rohit Kumar was placed in the platinum category (base price 8 lakhs) and after tight bidding amongst several PVL franchises he was sold to Kochi Blue Spikers for 17.5 lakhs the highest in season 2.

Rohit Kumar said, “I had a belief of going for a good bid and in the end, I ended up as the costliest buy. I feel happy but also hope to perform well for the team and also there won’t be any added pressure due to the price tag.”

Importance of PVL in growth of Indian players

Prime Volleyball League has played an important role in players’ development and exposure. After season one, 18 Indian players got an opportunity to participate in the Maldives Premier League and played alongside a few foreign players. 

“The PVL has been of great importance to both youngsters and senior players. Many now get to know about the league and the players in return get more support and reach. Playing alongside foreign players is an added advantage in getting to know other techniques. Also by playing in this league players can get job opportunities which help them financially,”he added.

Changes in gameplay

“There have been a few mistakes in terms of techniques which I saw through various videos on youtube and shall look to correct them in season 2.”

Thoughts about the team

Kochi Blue Spikers has picked up a good squad with a balance of experience and youth. They have signed a few costliest buys this season and shall also look to perform better than PVL season 1. 

Rohit Kumar iterated, “I trained alongside the coach during the Asian Games and know how he operates. The team overall looks balanced with the combination of youth and experience and overall shall look to put up a good show.”

Vipul Kumar

The 28-year-old setter was the captain of Hyderabad Black Hawks in the inaugural season of Prime Volleyball League and led them to the semifinals. Vipul Kumar will now shift flanks and ply his trade for Kochi Blue Spikers in the second season.

Experience of leading Hyderabad Blackhawks in PVL season 1

Hyderabad Black Hawks was one of the consistent teams in PVL season 1 and finished as semifinalists losing to finalist Ahmedabad Defenders. 

Vipul Kumar shared his experience of leading Hyderabad in season 1 and said, “It was a great experience leading the side in the inaugural edition. It was a good challenge to lead as the team was young but the performance exceeded my expectations. I had to decide along with the coach which players to provide game time and also had to take care of my performance which was a good challenge.”

Benefits playing alongside foreign players

The setter said, “The foreign players play with a different strategy to that of Indians. We play a combination game whereas there isn’t any such rule for the European players and enjoy the game till the end. We take some pressure while playing which we shouldn’t be doing going forward. Enjoying the game brings in more improvements.”

He further added, “Not all Indian players get an opportunity to play for the national team but PVL is giving them the opportunity. The camps here are highly professional with qualified physios which we often dont get to see in the national camp. We get to learn more in the 20 days of training with PVL teams than in the three months in the national camps.”

Reactions during the auctions

Vipul Kumar was the only setter to be available in the gold category during the PVL auctions. After a bidding war, Kochi Blue Spikers was successful in signing the player from Uttar Pradesh for 10.75 lakhs.

Vipul Kumar said, “I felt very happy being sold to a good franchise and for all the hard work put in I have got the result now. Now I feel extra motivated to perform well for the team. During the auctions, I along with a few were at the Inter railway camp and all started asking for a party after the auctions (laughs).”

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