The Indian men’s volleyball team stunned three-time champions South Korea 3-2 in their Pool C encounter at the ongoing 2022 Asian Games in Hangzhou on Wednesday. With a thrilling victory, the Indian men advanced to the knock-out stage. Though India lost the opening set 25-27, they recovered brilliantly by winning the following two 29-27 and 25-22. With a surprising loss on the cards, South Korea pulled up their socks to win the fourth set 25-20, forcing the match into a decider. The tides shifted on both sides until India had two match points at 14-12. The Koreans, on the other hand, came back to not only save those points but also seize the lead at 15-14.
As a historic triumph appeared to be slipping away, India found a hero in Manjunath Lakshmipuram, who first came up with a spectacular spike to help India tie the game before putting them ahead with a block. With another match point in hand, Erin Varghese closed out the match for India with a strong net block.
It was a very topsy-turvy match. There was a bit of pressure on us but we had good communication in the middle. We were tactically sound as well and slowed down the match whenever needed, said India’s Ashwal Rai after clinching a memorable win. This is a very big win for us to beat such a good team, he added. With this win, India tops Pool C and can hope for a favorable draw in the next stage, Round of 12. They had earlier defeated Cambodia 3-0 on Tuesday.
This win brings a big moment of happiness to all of us. The outcome of your hard work is always unparalleled, Indian coach Tom Joseph admitted. This win will act as a morale booster for us. Defeating a team like Korea is a rare achievement for us and we have shown we can do that, he added.
Ranked 27th in the world, South Korea are Asian giant in volleyball. They have finished on the podium in every edition of the Asian Games since the 1966 Bangkok Games. India, on the other hand, is ranked 73rd in the world and last finished on the podium in the 1986 Asian Games in Seoul. In the knock-out stage, India will face either Chinese Taipei or Mongolia as they continue their quest for a medal.