Volleyball Nationals: Uttarakhand, UP in quarterfinals

For Uttarakhand—one of the strongest teams in the recent times with one final and four semifinal finishes in the last six years—the 25-19, 20-25, 27-15, 25-22 defeat of last year’s bronze medallist Rajasthan would have no doubt brought a sense of relief.

Uttarakhand's Navjit Singh smashes the ball onto Rajasthan's court.   -  G. P. Sampath Kumar

The Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh men’s teams qualified for the quarterfinals after coming through the playoffs on day six of the 64th Senior National Volleyball Championship at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium here on Thursday.

For Uttarakhand—one of the strongest teams in the recent times with one final and four semifinal finishes in the last six years—the 25-19, 20-25, 27-15, 25-22 defeat of last year’s bronze medallist Rajasthan would have no doubt brought a sense of relief.

In the 63rd edition, it had suffered a blip as it had to field a weak team following a player-dispute and as a result had missed out on a quarterfinal berth. Uttar Pradesh, meanwhile, overcame West Bengal 25-21, 27-25, 25-15.

As a side Uttarakhand had not played competitively for a year following a ban by the Volleyball Federation of India. On the day, it had already played five sets as it had to best Haryana in the first round of the qualifying. Even as the rustiness and the tiredness both made themselves evident intermittently, the team was still able to pull through.

Uttarakhand and Rajasthan both committed quite a few errors in the first two sets and ultimately ended up splitting them. Amidst this, attacker Vinit Kumar, for Uttarakhand, gave a good account of himself with some powerful spikes and blocker Lavmeet Kataria shone for the latter.

The business end of third set was where the match turned. Locked at 20-20, then at 23-23, and then at 25-25, Uttarakhand finally broke Rajasthan’s resistance to claim the set 27-25. Sukhjindar Singh came up with the all-important block on set point.

Early in the fourth, Rajasthan wilted. Its opponent established a four-point lead and more or less maintained it to ultimately triumph.

In the women’s section host Karnataka had to grind its way through into the last eight. Early in the morning it beat Uttar Pradesh 25-13, 25-17, 25-19 and later in the afternoon—its third match in less than a day’s time—knocked out Haryana 25-16, 25-21, 25-14.

Attacker K. V. Megha led the way with impressive shows in all three sets. For Haryana, captain Nisha and Sahil tried to salvage something, but with the rest of the team not holding up, all the effort went in vain.

Joining Karnataka in the quarterfinals will be Andhra Pradesh which put it across Punjab in straight sets.

Results: Quarterfinal qualifiers: Round two: Men: Uttar Pradesh bt Andhra Pradesh 21-25, 25-21, 25-21, 19-25, 15-11; Uttarakhand bt Rajasthan 25-19, 20-25, 27-25, 25-22; Women: Karnataka bt Haryana 25-16, 25-21, 25-14; Andhra Pradesh bt Punjab 25-12, 25-14, 25-19

Round one: Men: Uttar Pradesh bt West Bengal 25-21, 27-25, 25-15; Uttarakhand bt Haryana 25-20, 18-25, 25-20, 25-27, 15-10; Women: Karnataka bt Uttar Pradesh 25-13, 25-17, 25-19; Andhra Pradesh bt Himachal Pradesh 25-16, 25-13, 25-11.

Quarterfinal line-up:-

Men: Kerala vs. Uttarakhand; Tamil Nadu vs. Uttar Pradesh; Serives vs. Punjab; Railways vs. Karnataka

Women: Railways vs. Karnataka; Kerala vs. Andhra Pradesh; Telangana vs. West Bengal; Maharashtra vs. Tamil Nadu.