Karnataka beat Rajasthan in a thriller

Karnataka was off to a winning start at the 64th Senior National Volleyball Championship here at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium with a 23-25, 28-26, 25-23, 25-20 win over Rajasthan on Saturday.

Karnataka's Raison Benet Rebello (17), and Bharath C M (10), defending the ball smashed by Rajasthan Ranveer (8), during the 64th Senior National Men and Women Volleyball Championship, at Sree Kanteerava Stadium, in Bengaluru.   -  K. Murali Kumar

Karnataka was off to a winning start at the 64th Senior National Volleyball Championship here at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium with a 23-25, 28-26, 25-23, 25-20 win over Rajasthan on Saturday.

The match was neck and neck for most part until the hosts, in the second half of the fourth set, pulled away.

In the opening set, Rajasthan took an early lead and went on to establish a sizeable point differential only for Karnataka to bring itself back, with captain A. Karthik and D. Anup D Costa holding forte. But they let themselves be pipped at the post to lose the set.

D Costa was not to be seen after being substituted midway though the first set, but attackers T.D. Ravikumar and C.M. Bharath were in fine form from the second set onwards. Akin to the first set, second was evenly matched as well until a crucial block by Raison Benet Rebello, with the score reading 27-26, helped Karnataka clinch the set.

The fine margins were at play in the third set too. But Ravikumar continued his impressive show and when A.S. Nikhil planted two wonderful smashes at 23-23, the third set was settled in Karnataka’s favour.

There were a few jitters for Karnataka as it fell behind 8-12 in the fourth, but a string of points gave it the necessary momentum to power through to the finish line. On match point, Rajasthan's Javed Khan dumped a service into the net to bring down the curtains.

For Rajasthan, blocker Jatin Singh and attacker Lavmeet Kataria, were the notable performers.

“I am little bit unhappy with the defence,” said Karnataka coach M.H. Kumara. “But they improved towards the end. Bharath and Nikhil are very young. But they played well.”

In the women’s section, defending champion Railways defeated Maharashtra 25-19, 25-13, 25-17 in an hour and ten minutes.

The results: Men: Karnataka bt Rajasthan 23-25, 28-26, 25-23, 25-20; Women: Railways bt Maharashtra 25-19, 25-13, 25-17.