India stuns 2018 Asian Games silver medallist South Korea in volleyball - What makes the win historic?

Asian Games 2023: India bettered South Korea, a three-time Asian Games gold medallist, in a five-set thriller to record a historic volleyball win in Hangzhou.

Published : Sep 20, 2023 20:56 IST , CHENNAI - 3 MINS READ

India’s men’s volleyball team during its Pool C match against South Korea.
India’s men’s volleyball team during its Pool C match against South Korea. | Photo Credit: Aashin Prasad

India’s men’s volleyball team during its Pool C match against South Korea. | Photo Credit: Aashin Prasad

The India men’s volleyball team pulled off a historic win against a much-higher-ranked South Korea on Wednesday in Pool C of the Asian Games 2023 in Hangzhou.

Ranked 73rd in the world, India brought down the World No. 27 Koreans in a five-set thriller 25-27, 29-27, 25-22, 20-25, 17-15. India had beaten Cambodia on Tuesday and the second win will ensure it ends the Pool stage as the winner.

HIGHLIGHTS | Asian Games - INDIA RESULTS on September 20

India started the game on a strong note and ensured it fought for every point. On multiple occassions in the opening set India took a lead only to squander the chances away.

It was able to capitalise on the advantages in the next two sets and pick a 2-1 lead. Though Korea fought back to claim the fourth 20-25, India held its nerves to capture the final set 17-15, and the match along with it.

Here are some of the stats breakdowns of why India’s win in this David vs Goliath clash will be etched in history:


The most glaring difference between the two sides is the massive ranking gap between the two teams. India is ranked 73rd in the world rankings with FIVB with 40.23 points.

South Korea, ranked 27th in the world, has more than three times the ranking points at 137.46.

Even in Asia, the rankings show a huge gulf. Korea is the fourth best nation in among the Asian Confederation nations while India is 19th out of 24 nations.


If the rankings were not enough, South Korea’s record at the Asian Games gives a peek into the quality of the South Koreans. Out of the 14 editions it has taken part in, the men’s team has won 14 medals.

It is a three-time champion, winning the gold in 1978, 2002 and 2006. At the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta and Palembang, it ended as the silver medallist. It’s total tally comprises of seven silver and four bronze medals.

India, in contrast, has secured just three medals. The first was a bronze coming in 1958 in Tokyo. Four years later, the side went one better with a silver in Jakarta.

India had to wait 24 years for its next medal. It won a bronze in the 1986 Seoul Games with a win against Japan in the 3-4th place match.

World Rankings
India: 73 | South Korea: 27
Asian Rankings
India: 19 | South Korea: 4
Head to Head (last five matches)
Played: 5 | India: 0 | South Korea: 5
Asian Games medals
India: 3 (0G, 1S, 2B) | South Korea: 14 (3G, 7S, 4B)


India had lost its last five matches against South Korea. Even the indiviual record told a story.

The World No. 27 had lost just two matches in its previous 11 outings. India had lost four in its last 10. Between September 2019 and September 2021, India had gone on an 11-match losing streak.

The win on Wednesday comes as a welcome change in trend for India and shows it is finally moving in the right direction.


Just before the Asian Games in Hangzhou, both teams were a part of the Asian Championships in Iran. South Korea finished fifth in the tournament with its only loss coming in the quarterfinals to China.

India finished in 11th place. It lost one of its group stage games to Qatar, the eventual bronze medallist. The next losses came at the hands of China in the Round of 12 and Indonesia in the 7-12th place playoffs.

It ended the tournament on a high with a 3-0 win againt Iraq to secure the 11th place.

Sign in to unlock all user benefits
  • Get notified on top games and events
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign up / manage to our newsletters with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early bird access to discounts & offers to our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide to our community guidelines for posting your comment