Senior National volleyball championship: Railway women on track

Kerala men’s team too qualifies for the quarterfinals.It defeated a fighting Punjab 25-20, 25-20, 27-25 to finish unbeaten in the three-team Pool A.

At the Calicut Trade Centre on Friday night, it was a commanding performance by the Railway women, for whom Nirmal Tanwar was once again the main impact player.   -  S. Ramesh Kurup

It proved just another day at the office for the Railways women’s team on day three of the 66th senior National volleyball championship. The defending champion scored an easy 25-13, 25-11, 25-17 victory over Andhra to post its third straight win and top Pool A.

At the Calicut Trade Centre on Friday night, it was a commanding performance by the Railway women, for whom Nirmal Tanwar was once again the main impact player. She came up with her precise smashes with regularity. Andhra had no anwser to her considerable skills.

But this Railway team is not just about Nirmal. It is a balanced team containing some of India's finest female players. The performances by Minimol Abraham, K.S. Smisha, M.S. Poornima, Ruksana Khatun and captain Anushree Ghosh underlined that fact.

Tamil Nadu and Bengal have also qualified for the quarterfinals from Pool A, along with Railways, while Andhra still has to win the play-off it has to make it to the last eight. Also qualified for the play-off are Gujarat, Karnataka, Haryana and Delhi, by topping Pool C, D, E and F respectively.

In Pool B, host Kerala, which was runner-up last year, finished on top, while the second-placed Maharashtra also booked its berth for the knock-out stage.

Like the Railway women, the Kerala men too have been in imperious form. They defeated a fighting Punjab 25-20, 25-20, 27-25 to finish unbeaten in the three-team Pool A. Smashes by skipper C. Jerome Vineeth and C. Ajith Lal entertained another big crowd.

Punjab and Andhra, which was impressive in its 25-20, 25-21, 25-19 win over Rajasthan, have joined Kerala, the defending champion, in the last eight. From Pool B, Tamil Nadu and Railways made the grade. Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka and Uttarakhand qualified for the play-off, from Pool C, D, E and F respectively.

The results (preliminary league)

Men:

Pool A: Kerala bt Punjab 25-20, 25-20, 27-25; Andhra bt Rajasthan 25-20, 25-21, 25-19; Punjab bt Rajasthan 25-20, 25-20, 25-15.

Pool B: Tamil Nadu bt Bengal 25-21, 25-23, 25-10; Tamil Nadu bt Himachal 25-17, 25-19, 25-21.

Pool E: Karnatka bt Delhi 22-25, 25-20, 25-21, 25-21; Chhattisgarh bt Bihar 25-18, 25-18, 25-19.

Pool F: Goa bt Telengana 25-19, 25-11, 25-12; Jharkhand bt Telengana 25-17, 12-25, 25-23, 25-23; Bengal bt Goa 25-27, 25-19, 25-20, 25-20.

Women:

Pool A: Railways bt Andhra 25-13, 25-11, 25-17.

Bengal bt Andhra 25-21, 16-25, 25-17, 16-25, 15-6.

Pool B: Maharashtra bt Telengana 19-25, 25-20, 32-30, 25-20.

Pool E: Madhya Pradesh bt Jharkhand 25-22, 25-17, 25-23 Haryana bt Chandigarh 25-21, 25-21, 25-13.

Pool F: Rajasthan bt Delhi 25-14, 18-25, 27-25, 25-21; Himachal Pradesh bt Jammu & Kashmir 25-10, 25-6, 25-3.