Fed Cup Volleyball: Punjab fights through Karnataka

Spilt services sapped Karnataka’s campaign, especially in the first two sets. In contrast, Punjab’s Hardeep Singh unleashed an ace that bounced off the rival turf untouched.

Ashwal Rai of Karnataka smashes past Punjab blockers Ranjit Singh (first from right) and Rajvir Singh (second from right) during their Federation Cup volleyball tournament match at the Cosmopolitan Club, Bhimavaram on Wednesday.   -  Special Arrangements

Punjab prevailed over Karnataka 25-21, 25-19, 18-25, 21-25, 15-9 in its men’s group A match of the Federation Cup volleyball tournament, at the Cosmopolitan Club, on Wednesday evening.

Spilt services sapped Karnataka’s campaign, especially in the first two sets. In contrast, Punjab’s Hardeep Singh unleashed an ace that bounced off the rival turf untouched.

The northern side was better with receiving too, often opportunistic to prop the ball over into vacant spaces on the opponent’s half. More importantly, it manoeuvred the early interception to a huge advantage, when its boosters set up splendid spiking possibilities.

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Karnataka reaped the dividends in the third when it followed suit, Sujith Kumar’s crosscourt smashing from front left supplementing Anup D’Costa’s hits from the right. The latter’s retrieval of the ball zipping beyond the scorer’s table to set up a scoring chance verged on the spectacular. The strapping all-rounder was adjudged best player of the contest.

The southern squad was mostly at the receiving end in the fourth too, leading in spurts but never quite dominant. Even on those few occasions, it couldn’t quite shake off its frailty with the serve. Amidst the slip-ups, Karnataka captain A. Karthik’s jump and top-spin serves stood out. Despite being down by two sets, Karnataka clawed its way back to stretch the contest into the decider.

Punjab sped off to 8-3 in the closing set, Gagandeep’s ace coming, as a shot in the arm in the winner separating itself from the loser. In the churn that the court became, Punjab’s players were better positioned too, finding themselves more often in the right place, importantly at the right time. Later in the evening, Railways women crushed Andhra Pradesh 25-12, 25-6, 25-7.