Fancied TN bow to Services' might

Champions Railways record second victory

Fancied TN bow to Services' might
Tamil Nadu, the traditional powerhouse of volleyball in men’s section, were favourites in their Group ‘B’ tie against Services in the 64th Senior National Volleyball Championship.

However, Services, on the back of a great team work, put up a feisty performance to stun their fancied opponents 25-22, 25-20, 22-25, 28-26 in a gripping encounter at the Sree Kanteerava Indoor Stadium here on Sunday.

While it was a shaky start for Tamil Nadu, defending champions Indian Railways had no such problems, notching up their second straight victory with a 25-22, 25-17, 25-18 verdict against Punjab in their Group ‘A’ contest.

In another Group ‘A’ tie, Kerala began their campaign in convincing fashion, beating Andhra 25-23, 25-21, 25-23.

In the women’s Group ‘C’ match, Karnataka began on a positive note, defeating Chhattisgarh 25-17, 21-25, 25-16, 25-14.

Earlier, senior players Ukkara Pandian and Naveen Raja Jacob had poor outings as Tamil Nadu were dominated in most part of the contest.

In the first set, Tamil Nadu’s service misfired to a large extent as Services gained control of the proceedings. Karthik’s smashes were right on target for Services and the attacker’s strong show proved to be too good for the Tamil Nadu defence.

In the second set, blockers Lijo Joseph and Arjun Nath formed a strong wall and didn’t allow the strong Tamil Nadu attack to find their rhythm. Even as the helpless Tamil Nadu side tried different combinations, Services remained focused throughout the set to clinch it 25-20. Two sets down, Tamil Nadu had no option but to go all out in order to save the match.

In the most engaging set of the match, the GR Vaishnav-led team made a fine comeback to clinch it 25-22 to pull one back. Tamil Nadu finally found an answer to Karthik’s powerful smashes through their improved defence led by Vaishnav.

Tamil Nadu were expected to carry momentum into the fourth set but Services regrouped well to take a healthy 10-6 lead. Setter Pandian’s woeful show continued and too many instances of net infringement increased concerns for Tamil Nadu. Adding a minor twist to the tale, Tamil Nadu, down 15-16, came back to take the lead due to a reception error from Services' Pankaj Sharma and they got closer to taking the fourth set with some attacking approach.  However, Services held their nerve and saved two set points to clinch the match in emphatic fashion.

Speaking on their victory, Services coach Sheejith VM said his team worked well as a team. “We might not have great individual players but we worked well as a team and that did the trick.”

Tamil Nadu coach P Sundaram sounded optimistic despite the defeat.  “Our senior players had an off-day but we will bounce back,” he said.

Results: Men: Group A: Kerala bt Andhra Pradesh 3-0 (25-23, 25-21, 25-23); Railways bt Punjab 3-0 (25-22, 25-17, 25-18).

Group B: Services bt Tamil Nadu 3-1 (25-22, 25-20, 22-25, 28-26).

Group C: West Bengal bt Delhi 3-0 (25-23, 25-16, 25-14); Maharashtra bt Jammu & Kashmir 3-0 (25-19, 25-23, 25-16); Uttar Pradesh bt Himachal Pradesh 3-1 (24-26, 25-21, 25-20, 25-20); Chandigarh bt Goa 3-0 (25-22, 25-17, 25-23).

Group E: Haryana bt Gujarat 3-0 (25-23, 25-17, 25-19). 

Group F: Telangana bt Jharkhand 3-0 (25-17, 25-20, 25-13).

Women: Group A: West Bengal bt Punjab 3-0 (25-12, 25-22, 25-21).

Group B: Telangana bt Tamil Nadu 3-2 sets (20-25, 20-25, 25-16, 32-30, 15-12)

Group D: Madhya Pradesh bt Uttarakhand 3-0 (25-14, 25-16, 25-21)

Group E: Assam bt Bihar 3-0 (25-19, 25-12, 25-15); Group E: Andhra Pradesh bt Jharkhand 3-0 (25-18, 25-4, 25-7; Gujarat bt Chandigarh 3-1 (17-25, 25-23, 25-13, 25-21).

Group F: Himachal Pradesh bt Delhi 3-0 (25-20, 25-19, 25-21); Rajasthan bt Pondicherry 3-0 (25-19, 25-7, 25-14).
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