Sun, 22 Sep, 2019

Nepal Seals Silver Trophy in the First South Asian Women’s Volleyball Championship

By Anish Thakuri

The first South Asian Women’s Volleyball tournament organized by the Nepal Volleyball Association (NVA) was held in Kathmandu from December 19 to 23, 2014. A total of five teams participated in the competition including Nepal, India, Sri-Lanka, Maldives and Bangladesh.  The 1st prize was $2000 whereas first and second runners-up bagged $1000 and $500 respectively.  The four day long tournament ran according to the round robin league format, in which each team has to contend against every other team. Like in every other South Asian competition, the dominance of regional powerhouse, India, continued as predicted. They clinched the title by winning all four games whereas host country, Nepal ended 2nd. The Nepalese team was led by Binita Budhathoki and other members were Ramila Tandukar, Manju Gurung, Nebika Chaudhary, Pratibha Mali, Saraswati Chaudhary, Usha Bista, Kopila Upreti, Manisha Chaudhary, Resha Bhandari, Aruna Shahi, Sushila Thapa, Jyoti Chaudhary and Kamala Pun. On the first day, High-flying Nepalese divas thrashed the mediocre Maldives side in three straight sets i.e. 32-15, 25-15 and 25-11. Similarly, in another fixture played on that day, Sri Lanka defeated Bangladesh in direct sets of 25-6, 25-18 and 25-15. Prativa Malla’s outstanding display against Bangladesh in the second game helped Nepal register the second victory of the campaign. Nepalese ladies controlled the game well with an excellent display of attack while defeating Bangladesh, 3-0 (25-11, 25-09 and 25-10).Win against Bangladesh gave the Nepalese team a big confidence before facing against the title favorites India and Sri Lanka. However, India achieved a comfortable win against Maldives. The succeeding day was scheduled for the most anticipated games of the tournament, Nepal vs. India. Nepalese women’s were fully geared up by the home supporter. Despite putting their best effort, they failed to put a competitive character as India dominated the home side resulting straight sets of 25-16, 25-17, 25-17 in their favor. Sri Lanka's win over Maldives on the same day brought Nepal down to the third position. On third day, India moved closer to the title, defeating arch rival Sri Lanka in straight sets of 26-24, 25-11 and 25-19 and led the table with three consecutive wins, whereas Maldives earned a consolation win over fellow strugglers Bangladesh in sets of 25-17, 13-25, 25-23 and 25-19 in the second match of that day. The final day of the tournament was set as an important day for home side Nepal and Sri Lanka.  They were going head to head for the second place. Even though India hadn’t secured their 1st position, they looked favorites to win against comparatively weak Bangladesh. And they did achieve the highest feat defeating Bangladesh in straight sets of 25-13, 25-6 and 25-09. India made a history winning all four games. They even didn't lose a single set in the tournament. However, the covered hall of National Sports Council was full of Nepalese supporters to rectify their team. Though Sri Lanka seemed favorites for the 2nd position match, the presence of Nepalese supporters gave the girls a huge boost. Nepal started excellently. They won the first two sets by 25-23, 25-22 and led by 2-0. However, they were unable to keep the same momentum and Sri Lanka made a comeback winning next two sets by 25-19 and 25-14. But, Sri Lanka was far from winning the match. A Nepalese lady performed outstandingly in the final set to win it by 25-10 and conquer the game by 3-2. Nepal finished second with 9 points and Sri Lanka had to settle for third place with 6 points. The best player of the tournament went to the Indian skipper, Tiji Raju, who received Rs 25,000 along with the best player award.