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

In a match to decide the group topper, Railways defeated Services 22-25, 25-21, 25-21, 25-19 in a men’s Group-B tie.

G.S. Akhin (r) of Kerala puts it past the Tamil Nadu blockers during the 67th Senior National Volleyball Championship at Nehru Indoor Stadium in Chennai on Saturday.   -  M. Vedhan

Karnataka has really performed well so far in the Senior National volleyball championships given the way how things off-the-field have panned out back home.

With the Volleyball Federation of India instituting an ad-hoc committee recently in Karnataka, giving not much time to its players to have a proper coaching camp, the team has done well within its limitations.

After losing to Kerala in its opening match, Karnataka has shown spine in its victory over Tamil Nadu and Punjab.

And its 23-25, 25-16, 25-18, 17-25, 18-16 win over the latter on Saturday must give the team a big boost going into the knockouts.

READ: National volleyball championships: Tamil Nadu goes down to Karnataka

It is a creditable feat given that in the last edition, Karnataka emerged from the lower pool (C, D, E, F) to reach the last eight.

Later, in a match to decide the group topper, Railways defeated Services 22-25, 25-21, 25-21, 25-19 in a men’s Group-B tie.

There was little to choose between Karnataka and Punjab. And it all boiled down to the fifth and deciding set.

Karnataka finished the match on its third match point when Ravi Kumar blocked successfully a powerful spike from Hardeep Singh.

With the defeat, Punjab finished last (fourth) in the group, and will hope to qualify for the quarterfinals through the play-offs.

Railways had to thank in large measure Angamuthu, who plays in Universal position, for its triumph over Services. He was instrumental in the contest not going to the fifth set. His well-angled smashes in the fourth found no answers more often than not.

In the women’s section, multiple champion Railways maintained an all-win record in Group-A, with a facile 25-18, 25-11, 25-13 win over Tamil Nadu.

Kerala snuffs out a tough challenge from Tamil Nadu

Backed by a vocal crowd, Tamil Nadu raised its game by at least a notch or two, but it still was not good enough as Kerala overcame a stiff challenge from the host 25-20, 23-25, 22-25, 25-19, 15-13. With the victory, Kerala topped the Group with three wins from as many matches.

For Kerala,  Ajith Lal, G.S. Akhin and C. Jerome Vinith delivered when it mattered most. Tamil Nadu played its best with each and every player throwing himself down and giving it all. But it was Kerala who had the last laugh.

The results:

Men: Group-B: Railways bt Services 22-25, 25-21, 25-21, 25-19; Haryana bt AP 25-14, 25-20, 25-21

Men: Group-A: Karnataka bt Punjab 23-25, 25-16, 25-18, 17-25, 18-16; Tamil Nadu bt Kerala  25-20, 23-25, 22-25, 25-19, 15-13

Women: Group-A: West Bengal bt Haryana 25-17, 25-20, 25-11; Railways bt TN 25-18, 25-11, 25-13; B: Karnataka bt Telangana 25-20,25-12,16-25,17-25,15-13; Kerala bt Maharashtra 25-19, 25-16, 25-20