Kerala men start with win in senior National volleyball

Rajasthan were no match as Kerala won 25-20, 25-13, 25-13 in just 52 minutes.

Kerala's C. Ajith Lal unleashes a smash against Rajasthan.   -  S. Ramesh Kurup

Rajasthan was one team, Kerala team coach K. Abdul Nazer was wary of, but his boys pulled off a brilliant performance to start the campaign at the senior national volleyball championship.

On Wednesday evening at the Calicut Trade Centre, Rajasthan were no match as Kerala won 25-20, 25-13, 25-13 in just 52 minutes. It was the ideal way for the defending champion to start its campaign infront of a large crowd to cheer it on.

The fans got more than their money’s worth. There were some terrific smashes unleashed by their favourite stars, brilliant blocking, deft drops and a serve from a home player that fetched the team seven points in a row.

Setter A. Muthusamy was the man who did that, at the outset of the third set. Kerala went up 7-0 and ensured that Rajasthan didn’t even have a semblance of a chance to make a comeback.

The northern Indian state had managed to put up some fight in the opening set, with Sonu Kumar Jhakar coming up with powerful smashes and good work at the net by Sachin Shekawat and Jatin Singh.

But it was always going to be an uphill task for Rajasthan, as it was up against a champion side that was packed with so much power and sheer talent.

Captain C. Jerome Vineeth led from the front as he spiked with precision and ferocity from varied angles. Some of Vibin M. George’s smashes were as deadly as were those from rising star C. Ajith Lal.

With G. Akhin and P. Rohith often proving impenetrable with their blocks, there was little hope for Rajasthan to extend the match beyond the third set.

The day also saw the reigning women’s champion Railway beginning its campaign on a bright note, as it made short work of Bengal 25-11, 25-19, 25-6.

The results (preliminary league):

Men: Pool A: Kerala bt Rajasthan 25-20, 25-13, 25-13. Pool C: Gujarat bt Madhya Pradesh 25-15, 25-23, 23-25, 25-19; Chandigarh bt Tripura 25-15, 25-12, 25-5. Pool D: Haryana bt Assam 25-12, 25-15, 25-19; Maharashtra bt Puducherry 25-20, 21-25, 25-23, 25-20.

Pool E: Karnataka bt Chattisgarh 25-23, 25-22, 25-21; Karnataka bt Bihar 25-12, 25-14, 25-17. Chattisgarh bt Jammu & Kashmir 25-15, 25-20, 25-15; Delhi bt Jammu & Kashmir 25-16, 25-14, 25-16. Pool F: Uttarakhand bt Goa 25-13, 25-18, 31-29; Bengal bt Jharkhand 25-15, 20-25, 25-9, 30-28.

Women: Pool A: Railway bt Bengal 25-11, 25-19, 25-6; Tamil Nadu bt Andhra 25-20, 25-19, 25-21. Pool E: Haryana bt Tripura 25-2, 25-3, 25-0. Pool F: Himachal Pradesh bt Chattisgargh 12-25, 25-20, 25-17, 25-21; Delhi bt Jammu & Kashmir 25-3, 25-13, 25-14.