Services get the better of lacklustre Tamil Nadu

Services beat an off-colour Tamil Nadu side 25-22, 25-20, 22-25, 28-26 in a Group B clash on day two of the 64th Senior National Volleyball Championship, at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium, here on Sunday.

It took two full sets for Tamil Nadu to click. Hampered by libero T. Sakthi Kumar’s illness, innumerable net infringements and a slew of overcooked serves, they were always playing catch-up.   -  G. P. Sampath Kumar

Services beat an off-colour Tamil Nadu side 25-22, 25-20, 22-25, 28-26 in a Group B clash on day two of the 64th Senior National Volleyball Championship, at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium, here on Sunday.

Missed chances

As experienced India players in setter Ukkara Pandian and attacker Naveen Raja Jacob turned in patchy performances, the relatively inexperienced side lost its nerve at crucial moments. After having conceded the first two sets, they could have levelled the tie when they held two set points at 24-22 in the fourth, but managed to let go of both.

Earlier, it took two full sets for Tamil Nadu to click. Hampered by libero T. Sakthi Kumar’s illness, innumerable net infringements and a slew of overcooked serves, they were always playing catch-up.

Services’ all-round ability was fully on show as the attacker in A. Anshad bailed his team out defensively too and Arjun Nath, the central blocker, spiked with authority when the chance was presented. Pankaj Sharma, the attacker, was as lethal from the back-court as he was from the front and played his role as the universal to perfection.

For Tamil Nadu, as attackers Selva Prabhu and S. Karthik blew hot and cold, it was left to the blockers in skipper G.R. Vaishnav and M. Satish Kumar to keep their side in the match. The duo upped their game in the third set and even rescued Tamil Nadu on two occasions in the fourth – from 8-12 down and then from 13-16 to finally lead 17-16.

At 21-21, when setter Muthu Samy, who substituted Ukkara Pandian, placed the ball with pin-point precision and then on the next point Satish executed a timely block, Tamil Nadu seemed set to drag the match into the decider.

However, two expert blocks by Services’ P.K. Dinesh and a powerful smash by Anshad in the last few exchanges helped Services clinch the set and the match.

“We might not be individually good, but we worked well as a team,” said Services coach V.M. Sheejith. “We wanted to begin well and we have done that.”

In the day’s other men’s matches involving Group ‘A’ teams, Kerala defeated Andhra Pradesh in straight sets to start its campaign on a winning note. The result was however Andhra’s second loss in as many matches. Railways, the defending champion, won its second successive match beating Punjab 25-22, 25-17, 25-18.

The results: Men: West Bengal bt Delhi 25-23, 25-16, 25-14; Haryana bt Gujarat 25-23, 25-17, 25-19; Maharashtra bt J&K 25-19, 25-23, 25-16; Assam bt Bihar 25-19, 25-12, 25-15; Uttar Pradesh bt Himachal Pradesh 24-26, 25-21, 25-20, 25-20; Chandigarh bt Goa 25-22, 25-17, 25-23; Telangana bt Jharkhand 25-17, 25-20, 25-13; Kerala bt Andhra Pradesh 25-23, 25-21, 25-23; Services bt Tamil Nadu 25-22, 25-20, 22-25, 28-26; Railways bt Punjab 25-22, 25-17, 25-18.

Women: Andhra Pradesh bt Jharkhand 25-18, 25-4, 25-7; Gujarat bt Chandigarh 17-25, 25-23, 25-13, 25-21; Madhya Pradesh bt Uttarakhand 25-14, 25-16, 25-21; Himachal Pradesh bt Delhi 25-20, 25-19, 25-21; Rajasthan bt Pondicherry 25-19, 25-07, 25-14 West Bengal bt Punjab 25-12, 25-22, 25-21; Telangana bt Tamil Nadu 20-25, 20-25, 25-16, 32-30, 15-12.