Karnataka men make semifinals after 18 yearsJanuary 9, 2019
The Karnataka men’s team has been a revelation in the senior National volleyball championships here. Playing a tactically sound game during crunch situations and maintaining composure have been some of its biggest strengths.
Defeating Tamil Nadu and Punjab in the group matches, it sounded a warning to other teams. Now, Karnataka went one step further with an impressive 23-25, 25-18, 25-21, 25-20 win over Haryana to enter the semifinals after 18 long years.
In the women’s quarterfinals, Maharashtra defeated Tamil Nadu 21-25, 25-15, 27-25, 25-20. Haryana was no pushover.
With universal Shubham Chaudhary and veteran central blocker Sube Singh, and a promising attacker in Amit Balwan Singh, it had some of the best in the business in its ranks. However, it was the consistent performance of blockers Ashwal Rai and A. Karthik that helped Karnataka script victory.
After losing a close first set, Karnataka took a 15-7 lead with blocker Ashwal and universal Ganesh Gowda taking the second set away from Haryana.
Shubham’s spikes are, generally, difficult to negotiate, and he did try to put Haryana back into the match with his trademark smashes, but Karnataka maintained the lead with some fine double blocks by the Ashwal-Karthik combine. Karthik and Ashwal dented Haryana’s hopes further, nullifying Amit and Shubham’s smashes from the right and left respectively. From 15-13, Karnataka faced few problems in the fourth set.
The Tamil Nadu women fought hard for every point with libero Saranya and setter Arya ensuring that the host stayed in the rallies as Maharashtra was far superior in attack. When it looked like Maharashtra would wallop Tamil Nadu in the fourth set after having taken a 12-8 lead, the host put in a rearguard performance.
Helped by Sangeetha and Aishwarya in a large measure and aided by some excellent blocking, Tamil Nadu, which was trailing all along, levelled the scores at 20-20. However, K. Aswami’s five successive smashes derailed Tamil Nadu.
The results (quarterfinals): Men: Karnataka bt Haryana 23-25, 25-18, 25-21, 25-20.
Women: West Bengal bt Karnataka 25-20, 25-17, 25-23; Maharashtra bt Tamil Nadu 21-25, 25-15, 27-25, 25-20.
Semifinals line-up: Men: TN vs Kerala; Women: Railways vs Maharashtra; Kerala vs West Bengal.