Dakshinamoorthy, SRM alumni guide Ahmedabad to PVL final

In an interaction with DT Next, Ahmedabad head coach Dakshinamoorthy, a tactician with more than 30 years of experience, spoke at length about the inaugural edition of Prime Volleyball and more.
Action between Chennai Blitz (yellow) and Ahmedabad Defenders (Credit: IANS)
Action between Chennai Blitz (yellow) and Ahmedabad Defenders (Credit: IANS)


The Tamil Nadu fanatics were in a state of shock when their home franchise Chennai Blitz bowed out of the Prime Volleyball League 2022 even before its maiden victory. However, volleyball aficionados in the state have had something to celebrate as their ‘second favourite’ Ahmedabad Defenders is just a step away from becoming the first PVL champion.

It would not be an exaggeration to say Defenders is partly an SRM IST (Chennai) alumni team dressed up in white or black. Noted coach S Dakshinamoorthy, who has made the University a powerhouse in National events, has ruled the roost in Prime Volleyball by putting together the Ahmedabad squad with familiar faces. Six of his SRM IST wards – skipper Muthusamy, Angamuthu, P Prabakaran, LM Manoj, S Santhosh and Ragul – are key members of the Defenders franchise, which will cross swords with Kolkata Thunderbolts in the title decider at the Gachibowli Indoor Stadium in Hyderabad on Sunday. In an interaction with DT Next, Ahmedabad head coach Dakshinamoorthy, a tactician with more than 30 years of experience, spoke at length about the inaugural edition of Prime Volleyball and more.
On setting up nearly half the squad with his students
We (the franchise) worked hard ahead of the auction. We identified talent and came up with a plan (on who to pick), so our job at the auction became easier. We managed to get 80% of the players who were part of our plan. Prime Volleyball has a shortened format (15 points per set) and the competition between teams is fierce. The players need to be physically and mentally strong to play such a format. Hence, we decided to have a good mix of youth and experience. Almost half of our squad members are my wards. Having previously worked under me, the players know what needs to be done in training and matches – the way we approach, creating an understanding between teammates etc. The boys have been fully cooperative since the start of our pre-season.
On the dominant performances of his wards en route to the PVL final
I know their strengths, so it was easy for me to devise strategies. Six players (in the Ahmedabad squad) have trained under me for a minimum of three years [at SRM IST]. I know how to extract the best out of them on court. The players know what I expect from them. At the start of the League, I was confident that the boys would deliver [for the team]. As my wards know how I go about my business, they helped the other players build a good understanding. Having my wards around has been a huge advantage. I would say that it has reflected on our on-field results so far.
On the PVL Season 1 journey with Defenders
We had a 10-day preliminary camp at SRM IST [in Chennai]. We moved to Hyderabad on January 27. This is the debut season of Prime Volleyball, so we did not know the strengths and weaknesses of the teams before the start. In our first [round-robin] match against Chennai Blitz, we took a bit of time to settle down but managed to win 3-2. We then met Calicut [Heroes], which gave us a tough fight before going down 2-3. Up next was [Black Hawks] Hyderabad, a team filled with youngsters. We delivered an extraordinary performance to defeat Hyderabad 4-1. We then had about a week’s break, which broke the momentum we built. After the interval, we played Bengaluru [Torpedoes], against which we suffered our first [and only] defeat [till date] – a 2-3 loss. The setback taught us a lesson. In our last two matches in the opening round, we bounced back to beat Kolkata [Thunderbolts] and [Kochi] Blue Spikers (by the same scoreline of 3-2). In the semi-finals, we defeated Hyderabad 3-1. It has been a long journey for me and my team.
On Shon T John’s rich vein of form in recent matches
He shares a good rapport with skipper Muthusamy as both play together for the Kerala state team [in National events]. Shon and Muthusamy have good on-court chemistry. Their partnership has helped the team in crucial moments. He (Shon) has won three ‘Man of the Match’ awards in succession. He is a great team man; he shared two of his awards with P Prabakaran and LM Manoj. We rarely see players doing it these days.
On the title decider against Thunderbolts
We are confident [of going all the way]. We have beaten Kolkata once. However, we cannot afford to make a lot of unforced errors in this format. The result will depend on how well the players execute our plans. We have the edge going into the final.

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