Spirited Ahmedabad Defenders go down against defending champions Perugia -
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Spirited Ahmedabad Defenders go down against defending champions Perugia

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Volleyball Club World Championships

Khel Today Bureau 

Bengaluru: India’s Ahmedabad Defenders provided enough glimpses of their potential but defending champions Sir Sicoma Perugia of Italy proved too strong for the home team in the final Pool A round robin clash in the Men’s Volleyball Club World Championships here on Friday.

The first-ever Indian outfit to participate in the prestigious tournament rode on a strong home support and put up a strong fight against the mighty Italians but ended up on the losing side 0-3 (25-18, 25-19, 25-11) to end their campaign as the third best team in the Pool A.

Perugia expectedly topped the Pool with two victories in two matches while Brazil’s Itambe Minas finished second with three points to book their semi-final spots.

On Saturday, Perugia will face Turkey’s Halkbank Spor Kulubu while Minas take on Japan’s Suntory Sunbirds for a place in the final.

The Defenders, who participated in the Club World Championships on home turf by virtue of being the RuPay Prime Volleyball League champions, were definitely the underdogs going into the must-win clash against Perugia, who boasted of the likes of star setter Simone Giannelli and Cuban Opposite Jesus Hererra.

But instead of being cowed down by the occasion, the Defenders played to their strength with skipper Appavu Muthusamy looking to engage LM Manoj, Amit Balwan Singh and Ramaswamy Angamuthu into breaching the Perugia defence with his short sets.

In the opening set, the home team managed to keep pace with their illustrious opponents till the first 12 points before the left-handed Hererra decided to step up and find winners at will.

The Cuban scored a total of 16 points with another left-handed Outside Hitter Oleh Plotnytskyi supporting him well with nine points. The Italians were so confident about wrapping up the match in straight sets that coach Angelo Lorenzetti substituted Giannelli in the first set itself and gave setter Gregor Ropret some game time ahead of the knock-out stage.

For the Indians Manoj top scored seven points with Angamuthu (6) and Amit (5) also impressing with their attacks.

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