The Bengaluru Torpedoes who went through their paces at the Malleswaram Indoor Stadium on Friday were brimming with confidence as they face defending champions Kolkata Thunderbolt in the opening match of the Prime Volleyball League 2023, which kicks off at the Koramangala Indoor Stadium here on Saturday.
Two-time Olympic medalist David Lee who is in charge of coaching the team assured of a better performance than last year.
“The team has changed from last season. We have some new players and so does Kolkata. Our first match is going to be a great test to see how we fare against the defending champions,” said Lee who had turned out for Calicut Heroes as a player last year and now has been roped in as the head coach of the Bengaluru franchise.
The Bengaluru Torpedoes have a bunch of talented players including four from Karnataka — Vinayak Rokhade, Sudheer Shetty, Srajan Shetty and Tharun Gowda with the last named having turned out for Kolkata Thunderbolts in the opening season.
“We have a ton of depth in our team. We have four outside hitters, three good middle and two great setters. It is a tough decision for a coach when he has too many options, but it is a good thing to have,” said Lee.
Alireza Abalooch of Iran and Bulgarian Tsvetalin Tsvetanov add the international flavour to the Bengaluru side. Pankaj Sharma and Vinayak bring loads of experience while also wearing the National colours.
“I am pretty confident of a good performance. I have a few experienced players but most of the guys are young, and they have this attitude of fearlessness. They are serving and receiving well and if we can have a great first contact, we can be successful against anybody,” said the internationally acclaimed spiker.
Meanwhile defending champions Kolkata Thunderbolts possess the mercurial Ashwal Rai as the captain and Narayan Alwa as the coach. Incidentally, both are from Karnataka.
Teams: Bengaluru Torpedoes (from): Alireza Abalooch, Tsvetelin Tsvetanov, Sethu TR, Mujeeb MC, Jishnu PV, Ibin Jose, Nisam Muhammed A, Sudheer Shetty, Vyshak Renjith M, Pankaj Sharma (Captain), Vinayak Rokhade, B Midhun Kumar, Tharun Gowda and Srajan Shetty. Coach: David Lee.
Kolkata Thunderbolts (from): Jose Verdi, Cody Caldwell, Rahul K, Deepesh Sinha, Hariharan V, Anush, Hari Prasad BS, Suryansh Tomar, Abhilash Chaudhary, Ashwal Rai (Captain), Vinit Kumar, Janshad U. Coach: Narayan Alwa