Railways men and women entered the semifinals of the Senior National volleyball championship for the third time in-a-row here on Wednesday.
The men’s team got past Andhra Pradesh 25-20, 25-20, 25-23, while the women downed Uttar Pradesh 25-13, 25-8, 25-17.
Tamil Nadu women were as insipid on this day as they were in the group stage, and lost 18-25, 7-25, 11-25 to Maharashtra. Tamil Nadu’s spiking was so lightweight that Maharashtra hardly found itself stretched. Until 8-2 up in the first set, Maharashtra players had their reflexes warm up, except on one occasion — C. C. Athira had to quickly go down to dig, but she wasn’t in control and the ball flew out of the court, as Tamil Nadu earned only its second point.
Even when Tamil Nadu did exert itself for full-blown spikes, it struggled to pick an empty court space, or the zone where the opponent was seemingly at its most vulnerable. In contrast, Maharashtra found space with ease. It had help from Tamil Nadu players, who tended to rally to the spot of action and left easy target space. This was evident when K. Aswani spiked the ball past three Tamil Nadu blockers, who had jumped with none backing up as Maharashtra went 10-2 ahead.
Also, Maharashtra used gentle taps with a fake or quick-arm action that either pulled the rival players into action early, or pushed them to act late. At 5-16 down in the third set, Tamil Nadu’s Anju Cherian’s dig went back afar in its own half that even a chasing Lakshmi Priya couldn’t push it back into play. It was symbolic of the match itself, that Tamil Nadu was left to chase at Maharashtra through out.
Kerala men beat Himachal Pradesh 25-14, 25-11, 25-13. G.S. Akhin was especially remarkable both in blocking and attack. He formed an effective partnership with K. G. Rakesh and C. Jerome Vinith at the net.
The Tamil Nadu men’s team made it to the semifinals for the tenth year in succession, defeating Rajasthan in straight sets 25-20, 25-20, 25-21.
The results (quarterfinals): Men: Railways bt Andhra Pradesh 25-20, 25-20, 25-23; Punjab bt Services 25-22, 25-18, 25-19; Kerala bt Himachal Pradesh 25-14, 25-11, 25-13; Tamil Nadu beat Rajasthan 25-20, 25-20, 25-21.
Women: Railways bt Uttar Pradesh 25-13, 25-8, 25-17; Andhra Pradesh bt Telangana 25-23, 25-18, 25-6; Maharashtra bt Tamil Nadu 25-18, 25-7, 25-11; Kerala bt West Bengal 25-10, 25-15, 25-17.
Semifinal line-up: Men: Railways vs. Punjab; Tamil Nadu vs. Kerala.
Women: Railways vs. Andhra Pradesh; Maharashtra vs. Kerala.