Gritty TN down Karnataka

Volleyball Senior National Championships : Hosts slump to first defeat, to take on champions Railways in quarterfinals

Gritty TN down Karnataka

 The Tamil Nadu men’s team brought in all their experience to good effect to inflict a straight-set defeat on hosts Karnataka in their final Group ‘B’ encounter in the 64th Senior National Volleyball Championship here at the Sree Kanteerava Indoor Stadium on Wednesday.

The GR Vaishnav-led side scripted their best performance of the tournament so far to record a 31-29, 25-21, 25-16 victory in a one-sided affair. The win proved to be crucial for Tamil Nadu as they topped the group while Karnataka slumped to third in the standings, below Services, at the end of the league stage. All three teams moved into the quarterfinals while Rajasthan (0), with three defeats; will play the play-offs for a place in the last-eight stage.

Tamil Nadu, Services and Karnataka finished tied on six points but on better set ratio, Tamil Nadu claimed the top spot, ahead of Services and Karnataka. The hosts could have ended their league assignments in first position on better set ratio if they had atleast clinched a set if not a win in their final match.

Karnataka will now face defending champions Railways in the quarterfinals on Friday. The play-offs will be played on Thursday.

The hosts had themselves to blame for their miserable outing as they let slip the advantage during crucial moments of the match. Karnataka were well on course to wrap the first set in their favour with the score reading 20-17 but some unforced errors saw them help Tamil Nadu come back level. As fortunes kept fluctuating, both Karnataka and Tamil Nadu squandered three set points each before the latter held their nerves to clinch the opening set 31-29.

Tamil Nadu dominated in the second set to take a healthy 6-2 lead but Karnataka staged a minor fightback to draw level at 6-6. However, the experienced setter Ukkara Pandia, blocker Vaishnav and attacker Naveen Raja Jacob hit Karnataka hard as the trio were right on target in their roles to help Tamil Nadu take the second set.

Karnataka were demolished in the third, with young attacker Karthik doing most of the damage. His senior counterpart Naveen too complemented his efforts in style as they sealed the contest that lasted 76 minutes with ease.

Earlier in the Group B game, call it the unpredictable nature of the game or sheer diligence, Punjab prevailed over Kerala 25-23, 25-23, 17-25, 14-25, 15-13 to script one of the major upsets of the championship. 

Punjab took home two points with the win while Kerala managed to gain one point. The defeat notwithstanding, Kerala finished on top in Group ‘A’, with seven points to their credit. Railways (6) and Punjab (5) settled for the second and third position, ahead of the fourth placed Andhra (0).

After losing the first set, Kerala were dealt a blow early on in the second set when their key blocker Akhin GS suffered an ankle injury. In the absence of their main player, Kerala defence took a beating and looked non-existent. Punjab cashed in on the opportunity to take the second set.

Kerala then staged a spectacular fightback by bagging the next two sets in style. They exhibited a fine all-round show to reflect their strength. Punjab though got their act together in the decider to clinch the humdinger in their favour.

In the women’s Group C match, hosts Karnataka defeated Odisha 25-22, 19-25, 25-21, 25-17 to top the group with nine points.

Results: Group A: Punjab bt Kerala 3-2 (25-23, 25-23, 17-25, 14-25, 15-13).
Group B: Services bt Rajasthan 3-0 (25-20, 30-28, 25-18); Tamil Nadu bt Karnataka 31-29, 25-21, 25-16).

Group C: West Bengal bt Pondicherry 3-0 (25-18, 25-20, 25-19); Pondicherry bt Jammu & Kashmir 3-2 (21-25, 25-27, 25-20, 25-16, 15-11).

Group D: Himachal Pradesh bt Goa 3-1 (25-20, 21-25, 25-14, 28-26); Uttar Pradesh bt Odisha 3-0 (25-18, 25-19, 25-21); Chandigarh bt Himachal Pradesh 3-2 (25-19, 19-25, 21-25, 25-18, 15-08).

Group E: Madhya Pradesh bt Bihar 3-0 (25-22, 25-21, 25-21); Assam bt Gujarat 3-0 (25-22, 26-24, 25-19); Haryana bt Madhya Pradesh 3-0 (25-14, 25-18, 25-15).

Group F: Uttarakhand bt Tripura 3-0 (25-14, 25-11, 25-13); Chattisgarh bt Jharkhand 3-1 (25-19, 26-28, 25-18, 25-23).

Group F: Telangana bt Jharkhand 3-0 (25-15, 25-22, 25-20).
Women: Group A: Maharashtra bt West Bengal 3-0 (25-20, 25-23, 25-13).
Group B: Kerala bt Tamil Nadu 3-0 (25-20, 25-16, 25-19).

Group D: Andhra Pradesh bt Chandigarh 3-1 (13-25, 25-09, 25-14, 25-18).
Group E: Uttar Pradesh bt Madhya Pradesh 3-0 (25-17, 25-18, 25-20).
Group F: Delhi bt Rajasthan 3-2 (26-24, 20-25, 26-24, 23-25, 17-15).

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