PVL: Ajithlal, Jerome are world-class players, says David Lee

David Lee, the biggest star in the Pro Volleyball League and also the lone Olympian in the tournament, says Indians are strong in attack but lack in defence.

David Lee (right) Kochi Blue Spikers during a PVL fixture against Ahmedabad Defenders in Kochi.   -  H. Vibhu

He may have been here for just about a couple of weeks but American great David Lee is very impressed with some of the Indian players in the RuPay Pro Volleyball League.

“I was blown away with some of these guys, like Ajithlal and Jerome Vinith (both from Calicut Heroes)…these are world-class players,” said David, the 2008 Olympic gold medallist, in a chat with Sportstar at the team hotel at Kakkanad on Friday.

“Seeing the quality of the players you have, you should have no problem beating teams like Japan and China. I was blown away by the athleticism of the players, I see many tall players jump high. From an athletics standpoint, they are much more advanced than what I see in China and Japan.”

David, who is the biggest star in PVL and is the lone Olympian in the tournament, however, felt that India had a lot of catching up to do in the block and defence.

“I think a lot of these players are very strong in attack but the block and defence system is very primitive,” said the 35-year-old star blocker who was also a bronze medallist with the US team at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Bunch read blocking

“In the US, we have something called the ‘bunch read blocking’ where the middle blocker is waiting to see where the setter passes the ball. But here, any time there is a good reception, the middle blocker is in full jump and it is one on one.

“There is really no combined blocking. I think this is a deficiency in higher-level volleyball which will obviously be exploited by good teams.

“Also, the three-man block is something that we haven’t really seen. I think the foreigners, like Carson Clark and Paul Lotman (both Americans) are trying to bring in this three-man system which really raises the effectiveness of the block. We had some stat in the US that attacking against the three-man block, the percentage of ‘kills’ went down drastically.”

Volleyball needs to be seen more on television, feels David.

“In the US, it is really difficult to break into the time slots. The fact that India has already done that, on Sony Six and Sony Ten, I think there is huge potential for the sport to be massive here,” he said.