Ahmedabad Defenders’ clinical performance throughout the RuPay Prime Volleyball League Powered by A23 Season 2 yielded positive results with the team bagging the title after a gripping final against Bengaluru Torpedoes.

The Defenders’ performance in the league was a sheer specimen of how teamwork can make a difference. For a side that started the new season with a 2-3 defeat at the hands of Hyderabad Black Hawks, a run until the final and actually winning it is a statement of intent.

Regardless of their stature of being last season’s finalists, the Muthusamy Appavu-led team had to prove themselves as capable competitors and a defeat on the opening day of the season did not really help their cause.

The team, however, worked on their frailties and went on to win their next five games. A defeat against the previous season’s winners Kolkata Thunderbolts in the final league stage game forced them to settle for a second-place finish, but that never deterred the team from making their way to the final.

By the end of league stage games, Ahmedabad won an impressive 22 sets while conceding only 13, with only Kolkata managing to have better figures. Furthermore, their points ratio of 1.074 was also the second-best return among the eight teams.

The final, against Bengaluru Torpedoes, was as nerve-wracking as anything but Ahmebabad kept their cool towards the end to walk out victorious. Over the course of the season, the Defenders witness several crucial individual performances and here we look at a few.

The unplayable Angamuthu Ramaswamy

Ahmedabad Defenders’ Angamuthu Ramaswamy was arguably their best performer of their 2023 campaign. The 28-year-old universal was responsible for a whopping 111 points (98 attack points, nine block points and four via serves) and was one of the only three players who breached the triple-digit mark in the entire season.

After having made a slow start, Ramaswamy picked up the pace against Mumbai Meteors, accumulating an impressive 22 points. And that, in fact, was his personal best this season. As the season progressed, the orientation of his influence was in the upward direction.

Towards the end of the season, while Angamuthu’s tally stayed within 10-15 points, he managed to grab the Player of the Match award in the semi-final and the final, having tallied 13 and 16 points respectively.

Nandhagopal Subramaniam’s coming-of-age display

In only his debut campaign, Nandhagopal Subramaniam returned with a tally of 78 points, the sixth-best return in the league this season. What set the young 21-year-old attacker aside from the rest was his efficiency in serving. With a success rate of 13.75 percent while launching, Subramaniam bagged 11 points from serving, with only Rahul K from Kolkata Thunderbolts managing more points (12) than the youngster.

Nandha put on his best show against Kochi Blue Spikers on February 26 in a narrow 3-2 win for his side where the 21-year-old ended up tallying 14 points, with nine coming in attack, three via blocks and two from serving.

Danial Moatazedi’s authority was crucial

With his towering stature, Danial Moatazedi was always in the limelight. The 31-year-old Iranian tallied 71 points during the season and despite being a blocker, he averaged 6.11 attack points per game with a success rate of 62.5 percent.

As far as his blocking is concerned, he stayed true to his position, having accrued 13 points in the league. Interestingly enough, Calicut Heroes were Moatazedi’s favourite opponent. In his first outing against Calicut, he returned with 14 points (total) and in the second match, which was, in fact, a semi-final clash, he scored 10 individual points.

The terrific combination of Moatazedi-Manoj

While Angamuthu took care of the attacking department, Moatazedi was joined by mountain-man LM Manoj in defence. The 25-year-old blocker had 18 block points to his name as he ended his season with an overall tally of 64 points.

From a holistic view, one can argue that he breached the double-digit mark in only three of his nine outings, but one cannot overlook the combination play he was a part of throughout the season.