Olympics Begin In
Begin typing your search above and press return to search.

Asian Games

Indian volleyball team proud of Asian Games performance despite Japan defeat

The Indian men's volleyball team lost to world number 5 Japan to be pushed out of medal contention. They will now face Pakistan in the 5th-6th classification match.

Indian volleyball team proud of Asian Games performance despite Japan defeat

The Indian volleyball team in action against Japan in the Asian Games quarterfinals


Dipankar Lahiri

Updated: 24 Sep 2023 9:47 PM GMT

Hangzhou: The Indian volleyball team's fairytale run was halted by world number 5 Japan in the quarterfinals at the China Textile City Sports Centre Gymnasium on Sunday afternoon, but the team is proud of what they have achieved over the past few days.

"Among Asian nations, Japan is the best in volleyball. To have run them this far was a commendable job by the team. We are waiting for the quarterfinal between Pakistan and Qatar to know who we will face in our last match on Tuesday," assistant coach Tom Joseph said after the match.

India, ranked 73rd in the world, went on a giant-killing run here, beating last edition's silver medallists South Korea (world rank 27) and bronze medallists Chinese Taipei (world rank 43) before facing the Japanese hurdle.

To make matters worse, captain Vinit Kumar suffered an injury early on in the quarterfinal, forcing the Indian management to make some quick changes.

"The better team won today, but we are proud. Despite the opposition and the injury to our captain, all the players stepped up," said head coach Jaideep Sarkar.

Erin Varghese, Ashwal Rai, and Muthusamy were the three best performers for the Indian team on the day as they gave Japan a run for their money, eventually losing in a three-setter which went on for 71 minutes.

'Proud moment'

"Our energy level was higher than Japan. We were jumping more than them, we had more power than them. First pass, more effective service, and blocking are some of the areas we still need to work on," said head coach Sarkar.

"But some things come only with experience. Japan plays around the year, they will soon play in the Olympic qualifiers. You all know India does not have the exposure, we have just started. It is a proud moment that we have reached this far, there is a pipeline of young players who are coming up. We are sure to build on this success," Sarkar added.

At the previous Asian Games in 2018, the Indian men's volleyball team had finished 12th.

The five years since then have been eventful for Indian volleyball, with players often left at the mercy of internal bickering between two factions of the volleyball federation.

As recently as in July 2023, an unofficial Indian team traveled to Chinese Taipei to play the Asian Men's Volleyball Challenge Cup, but even though they won some matches, all their results were counted as losses. An ad-hoc committee running the federation did not 'recognise' the team, and upon their request, the organisers decided that the 'Indian team' could still play their matches, but the results of the matches would be forfeited.

A 5th-6th-place finish at the Asian Games, this time with the official tag of 'India', does not reveal the struggles the sport has had to endure.

Next Story