Two-time Olympic Medallist David Lee at the helm of coaching
Bengaluru, Jan 31: A new-look Bengaluru Torpedoes team which has an ideal mix of youth and experience in its wings, aims for glory in the second season of the RuPay Prime Volleyball League Powered by A23 which kicks off with the Torpedoes taking on defending champions Kolkata Thunderbolts on Feb 4 in a home match at the Koramangala Indoor Stadium.
Torpedoes, who finished fifth after narrowly missing to make it to the knock-out stage in the opening season of the RuPay Prime Volleyball League Powered by A23, have retained their star attacker Pankaj Sharma who will be captaining the side along with two other stalwarts in Vinayak Rokhade and B Midhun Kumar. Also boosting their attack wing, the Bengaluru franchise has signed up with Alireza Abalooch of Iran and Bulgarian Tsvetelin Tsvetanov from the international player’s draft.
“We gave our best shot last year but we fell short of just a solitary point to qualify to semi-finals. We have a very strong team for the upcoming season and hopefully we should finish on the top,” said Ankit Nagori, Co-owner, Bengaluru Torpedoes during the unveiling of the team here on Tuesday. “Apart from the League, we have a Torpedoes academy in Malleswaram open for the general public where anybody can enrol and get free coaching and mentoring.
Apart from Vinayak, the Bengaluru franchise also brags of having three other players from Karnataka – Sudheer Shetty, Srajan Shetty and Tharun Gowda who have already made a mark for themselves at the National level. While the Torpedoes have some of the top players from the country in their ranks, they have also roped in two-time Olympic medallist David Lee (Gold in 2008 and Bronze in 2016) as their Head Coach. The highly decorated American who has represented his country three times at the Olympics and won gold medals at the 2015 World Cup and the World League (2008 & 2014), had turned out for the Calicut Heroes last year as a middle blocker. Lee who is wearing the coach’s hat for the first time in his career, aims to turnaround the fortunes for the Karnataka side in the ensuing season.
“I have the advantage of playing in the first season as a player and have made notes about the positive and negative points of almost all the players in the League. I am going to use this experience to get maximum results for our team,” said Lee. “The boys are working hard and are in fine shape. I think we have a heady concoction of attack and defence which should augur well to put us in the reckoning,” added Lee who turns 41 next month.
The 2023 season of the RuPay Prime Volleyball League Powered by A23 will feature a total of eight teams as against seven in the first edition with Mumbai Meteors entering the fray for the first time. Chennai Blitz, Ahmedabad Defenders, Calicut Heroes, Hyderabad Black Hawks, Kochi Blue Spikers and Kolkata Thunderbolts are the other teams. Each team plays seven matches before the top four qualify for the semifinals.
After the first season of the PVL which was played in bubble, the enthusiastic fans will now be able to watch their favourite stars live. The commercial arm of global body of Volleyball (Fédération Internationale de Volleyball, FIVB), Volleyball World, has joined hands with PVL, coming on board as the international streaming partners in a multiyear association. Sony Sports Network continues to be the host broadcaster of the RuPay Prime Volleyball League powered by A23.
Bengaluru Torpedoes squad
Alireza Abalooch, Tsvetelin Tsvetanov, Sethu TR, Mujeeb MC, Jishnu PV, Ibin Jose, Nisam Muhammed A, Sudheer Shetty, Vyshak Renjith M, Pankaj Sharma, Vinayak Rokhade, B Midhun Kumar, Tharun Gowda and Srajan Shetty.
Schedule of Bengaluru Torpedoes (League Stages)
Feb 4: Vs. Kolkata Thunderbolts
Feb 9: Vs Ahmedabad Defenders
Feb 12: Vs. Mumbai Meteors
Feb 16: Vs. Chennai Blitz
Feb 17: Vs. Kochi Blue Spikers
Feb 21: Vs. Hyderabad Blackhawks
Feb 28: Vs. Calicut Heroes
Semi-finals and Finals in Kochi.