National volleyball championships: Punjab beats Uttarakhand to enter quarters

In the women’s play-off second round match, Haryana scripted an easy 25-17, 25-14, 25-14 win over Uttar Pradesh.

Gagandeep Singh of Punjab puts it past the Uttarakhand blockers during the 67th Senior National Volleyball Championships.   -  M. Vedhan

For a 16-time men’s champion and an eight-time finalist not to have reached the podium for the last decade or so seems quite astonishing. Punjab has been out of the radar for quite a while - it last won the title in 1999, and finished third in 2006.

In the ongoing senior men's National volleyball championships at the Nehru Indoor Stadium, Punjab hasn’t been impressive as it lost all its group A matches.

However, there was a change in fortune as it defeated Uttarakhand 20-25, 25-16, 25-16, 25-21 in the pre-quarterfinal on Sunday to enter the last eight of the championships. Punjab will now take on 12-time champion Railways in the quarterfinals.

READ: National volleyball championships:Railways tops group with win over Tamil Nadu

Uttarakhand, who had finished as the topper in Group-D, made it to the pre-quarterfinals after defeating Group C topper Gujarat.

For a brief while, two-time champion Uttarakhand gave a tough time to Punjab. Especially, in the first set when Punjab wasn’t at its attacking best and its opponent capitalised with some effective blocks.

However, from the second set, Punjab got into the groove, with wonderful spiking from Kanwarpal Singh and Hardeep Singh.

It was the wonderful display of Universal Gagandeep Singh that tilted the scales in Punjab’s favour in the third and fourth sets. Of the last five points in the fourth set, four came from Gagandeep's thunderous smashes.

Earlier, in the women’s play-off second round match, Haryana scripted an easy 25-17, 25-14, 25-14 win over Uttar Pradesh. It will now take on Kerala in the last eight clash.

The results:

Play-off second round (Pre-quarterfinals): Men: Punjab bt Uttarakhand 20-25, 25-16, 25-16, 25-21;  Women: Haryana bt UP 25-17, 25-14, 25-14.

Play-off second round match (Pre-quarterfinals): Men: Andhra bt Maharashtra 25-18, 25-23, 14-25, 25-20; Women: Delhi bt Telangana 25-22, 26-24, 21-25, 26-24.

Lower pool qualifiers:

Men: Uttarakhand bt Gujarat 25-19, 25-21, 25-19;  Maharashtra bt Rajasthan 25-17, 23-25, 25-21, 25-15;

Women: UP bt Rajasthan 25-14, 24-25, 20-25, 26-24, 15-13; Delhi bt Gujarat 25-14, 35-33, 17-25, 25-20

Quarterfinals line-up

Jan 7: Men: Kerala vs Andhra Pradesh, TN vs Services; Women:  Railways vs Delhi, Kerala vs Haryana.

Jan 8: Men: Karnataka vs Haryana, Railways vs Punjab; Women: West Bengal vs Karnataka, Maharashtra vs Tamil Nadu.