Men's Volleyball Club World C'ship: Ahmedabad Defenders lose despite fight
PVL champions Ahmedabad Defenders put up a tough fight against Itambe Minas in the first group game of Men's Volleyball World C'ship 2023.
Prime Volleyball League champions Ahmedabad Defenders put up a spirited performance in their Men’s Club World Championship debut against the formidable Itambe Minas from Brazil before going down 0-3 in their Pool A clash.
The home team, who also became the first Indian club to play in the prestigious competition, took the fight to Minas but the experience in the rank of Minas made the difference in the final analysis as the Brazilian opened their account with a 25-22, 25-23, 25-19 win.
Outside hitter Amit Balwan Singh was the highest scorer for the home team with a total of 13 points and was well supported by A Ramaswamy (7), LM Manoj (7) and Ashwal Rai (5) but their effort wasn’t enough to help the team to win at least one set in what was a historic occasion for Indian volleyball.
On Wednesday, Bengaluru became only the second Asian city after Doha, Qatar, to host the prestigious Men's Volleyball Club World Championships and the home side rode on a strong support in the Koramangala Indoor stadium to punch above their weight.
Michael Sanchez top-scored for Minas with 20 points, which included 17 spikes and two quality blocks. Paulo Silva and Marcus Coelho chipped in with 10 and 9 points respectively.
Ahmedabad Defenders, newcomers to the world stage, got a glimpse of the challenge ahead of them when the Mina's attackers went for their booming spikes to clinch the first three points. The Indian club found a place on the scoreboard thanks to a service error.
A clever spike preceded by a block from Ashwal Rai saw the home team close the gap and the service errors from the Brazilians only gave the Defenders more confidence as they kept pace with their opponents till 10-12.
But the experience of Minas team, playing in the competition for the third time, came to the fore thereafter as B Michael Sanchez and Paulo da Silva came in from the wide to score points with cross-court spikes. The eventual winners preferred to attack from the backcourt to create angles to find the winners.
The reversal in the opening set only made the Defenders more determined to punch above their weight with Manoj and Amit keeping up the pressure on their opponents by killing the short sets executed by captain A Muthusamy.
The home team stayed neck-and-neck with Minas till 20-20, raising hope of winning a set. But Brazilian international Isac Santos came up with a spike and big serve to open up a two-point advantage for Minas and they maintained that advantage to double their set score.
The Defenders had their best passage of play in the match at the start of the third set when they clinched three of the first four points with quality blocks. But this is when Santos proved why he is the star of this Brazilian outfit as he helped the team win seven straight points with quality serves to give his team a 5-11 lead.
The home side needed a miracle to force a comeback from this setback. To their credit, they did not throw in the towel and kept fighting. But the likes of Santos, Sanchez, and Marcus Cohelo were just too powerful with their spikes from the front and back of the court as they wrapped up the match in three sets and earned three full points.