Kerala trounce champs Railways

Volleyball Senior Nationals : Holders advance to quarterfinals despite loss

Kerala trounce champs Railways

 It was a contest that was expected to go down to the wire. Defending champions and tournament favourites Railways were up against Kerala, one of the most consistent sides in the history of the championship.

But much to everyone’s amazement, the Group ‘A’ match turned out to be a one-sided affair as Kerala ran through a sloppy Railways’ side in straight sets to notch their second straight victory on the fourth day of the 64th Senior National Volleyball Championship here at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium on Tuesday.

In a near-flawless performance, Kerala scripted a 25-20, 25-12, 25-22 victory in 70 minutes to take home three points. With two wins from as many games, Kerala are through to the quarterfinals, along with Railways and Punjab in Group ‘A’.

Following the defeat, Railways finish their league assignments with six points from three games. Punjab has recorded one victory in two games to have three points to their credit. In the last tie of the group on Wednesday, Kerala will face Punjab. The result of the match will not stop both sides from reaching the knockouts since the fourth team in the group, Andhra Pradesh, have lost all their three ties, forcing themselves to fight it out in the qualifiers to enter the knockouts.

Coming into the match, Railways missed attacker S Prabhagharan and blocker Karan Choudhary due to injuries. The absence of the two key players reflected on their poor outing. But nothing can be taken away from Kerala’s authoritative performance which left their rivals clueless.  

Despite allowing Railways to take a 4-1 lead in the first set, Kerala came back strongly to draw level at 11-11. The rock solid defence of Kerala was led by India international Akhin GS and once they got their nose in front in the opening set, there was no stopping them. The Railways’ attack fell flat against some high quality blocking from Akhin as Kerala remained in total control.

If the blockers had a field day in the first, the second set belonged to the Kerala attacker Jerome Vinith. The strongly built 23-year old went berserk and powered in smashes at will to knock down Railways’ confidence. There was no time to recover for Railways as their opposition clinched the set 25-12 with ease.

Railways finally found a way to breach the Kerala defence in the third set to take a 7-3 lead. The experienced Manu Joseph, who was substituted in the first set, was brought back and the attacker made an impact to raise some hopes for Railways. But Kerala hung in to level scores at 17-17 and warded off a light scare from the champions to clinch the tie in style.
 
Results: Men: Group ‘A’: Kerala bt Indian Railways 3-0 (25-20, 25-12, 25-22); Punjab bt Andhra Pradesh 3-1 (20-25, 25-23, 25-11, 25-21). Group C: Maharashtra bt Pondicherry 3-0 (25-19, 25-17, 25-23); West Bengal bt Jammu & Kashmir 3-0 (25-21, 25-18, 25-20).  
Group D: Uttar Pradesh bt Goa 3-0 (25-16, 25-19, 25-22); Chandigarh bt Odisha 3-2 (25-21, 22-25, 18-25, 25-18, 15-12).

Group E: Haryana bt Bihar 3-0 (25-21, 25-19, 25-15); Madhya Pradesh bt Assam 3-0 (25-23, 25-23, 26-24).

Group F: Uttarakhand bt Jharkhand 3-0 (25-21, 25-15, 25-23); Jharkhand bt Tripura 3-0 (25-07, 25-20, 25-23).

Women: Group ‘A’: Maharashtra bt Punjab 3-0 (25-19, 25-15, 25-11); Indian Railways bt West Bengal 3-0 (25-14, 25-16, 25-09).

Group B: Telangana bt Haryana 3-0 (25-12, 25-18, 25-13).
Group C: Odisha bt Chhattisgarh 3-1 (25-15, 24-26, 25-12, 25-11);
Group D: Uttarakhand bt Jammu & Kashmir 3-0 (25-13, 25-19, 25-19).  
Group F: Himachal Pradesh bt Bihar 3-0 (25-07,  25-04, 25-03); Delhi bt Pondicherry 3-0 (25-13, 25-11, 25-18).

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