Asian Games 2023: Indian men’s volleyball team stun heavyweights South Korea, top pool C
India had also earlier thrashed Cambodia in their campaign opener in Hangzhou.
In a remarkable result, the Indian men’s volleyball team have defeated three-time champions and 2018 Asian Games silver medallist South Korea 3-2 in a Pool C encounter at the Hangzhou Asian Games 2023 on September 21 (Wednesday). The win propelled India to the top of Pool C and also sealed their qualification into the next stage of the men’s volleyball competition.
India’s thrilling 25-27, 29-27, 25-22, 20-25, 17-15 victory over the Asian giants was historic in many ways — one among them being this was their first win over South Korea in 10 years. The magnitude of this win is also highlighted in the FIVB rankings, where India are placed 73rd. South Korea, on the other hand, are the fourth-highest ranked side in Asia and 27th overall.
Having started their campaign with a big victory over the lowly-ranked Cambodia, India started their second group match as the underdog. However, the scenes in Hangzhou told otherwise. India brought out their best performance on the court. Even though the Korean team put continuous pressure on them with their experience and resilience, the Indian men replied magnificently to every question asked.
India had started match slightly on the nervous side, giving the Koreans an edge in the first set. However, they were not behind in covering up their mistakes. With some exceptional performances by Wing Spiker Amit, Hari Prasad, Muthusamy Appavu, Ashwal Rai, Manoj Laksmipuram Manjunathan and Vinit Kumar leading from the front, the Indian team successfully made a massive comeback after losing the first set and defeated the mighty Korean side.
The highlights from the Indian team were Muthusamy and Rai’s extraordinary blocks defusing Korean spikes one after another. Other than that, Muthusamy’s skill to perfectly set the ball for 6’9″ Manjunathan accelerated their winning chances in the contest. However, towards the end of the match, India once again almost fell into the game of nerves as they spoilt their chance to win with ease and gave away two match points.
But a world class block by Erin Varghese helped the India seal the win eventually. Korean, on the other hand, were also on the top of their game, but 20 service errors were a little too much at the end of the day. Despite the historical defeat, Jeon K and Gyeongbok stood out for Koreans as they tried their best to stop the Indian thunderstorm.
India had finished 12th in the Jakarta edition of the Asian Games 2018. But with this stunning performance, India’s chances of finishing in a better position in Hangzhou look brighter. It has been 36 years since the Indian men’s volleyball team last stood on the podium at the Asiad.
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