The Cinderella Story of the Indian junior volleyball team tragically ended without a medal. The Indian boys bowed out in straight sets to Argentina in the bronze medal match of the Men's U-21 Volleyball World Championships at the Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex at Balewadi in Pune on Sunday.
After playing two consecutive five-setters against Belgium and Brazil in three days, the Indian players lacked their usual fizz as they lost the first two sets without putting up a fight.
Though chief coach MH Kumara rung in the changes and the second string rallied superbly in the third set, it was too little, too late. Argentina romped home to a 25-19, 25-16, 25-22 victory and a historic first bronze medal.
The lack of motivation was evident in the scoresheet as none of the Indian player managed to reach double figures. The Indians conceded the lead early in all three sets and could not match the Argentine aggression and determination.
However, in defeat there was victory for the team and Indian volleyball, as the boys made the world sit up and take notice of their talent.
"When we reached here, no one gave us a chance. We were not allotted the main training hall for training and practice matches, which was reserved for the top teams as everyone thought we would crash out early," said Kumara.
"But the boys showed great strength and will-power and played brilliantly. No one could have imagined at the start of the tournament that we would beat teams like USA, Russia and Belgium. We also nearly beat Brazil."