National champions Tamil Nadu men and Railway women opened their Federation Cup volleyball campaign with comfortable wins here on Thursday night.
Tamil Nadu, which has many senior and junior internationals in its side, brushed aside Uttar Pradesh in straight sets in men’s Group ‘A’ while Railways crushed a young Haryana 3-0 in the women’s round robin league.
Despite playing without its international Naveen Raja Jacob, who had to return home as his father was unwell, Tamil Nadu looked a cool and settled combination. The team thrived on a quick attack to rattle UP.
G.R. Vaishnav and John Christopher and Anandaraj were done with their job even before the rival block could come up. And since the team had the country’s most experienced setter in M. Ukkarapandian, the national playmaker, it made TN’s job easier.
UP, which gained a backdoor entry into this championship after Railways pulled out, depended heavily on its captain, left-handed Omveer Mann, who came good with some cross-court smashes. As the match wore on, however, he looked a bit weary.
TN mixed up its block nicely, using hard and soft ones, with G.S. Akhin working smartly with John Christopher and Jerome Vinith to contain the UP spikers. Earlier, Railway women — with half the Indian team in its ranks — had a party with Soumya, Poornima and Priyanka Bora attacking without facing much of a resistance.
Haryana’s attack revolved around 17-year-old Nirmal and she did not disappoint, accounting for the bulk of the points her team won this evening. Offering support was captain Hema Chikkara and Neha. But the team was uncomfortable with its playmaker Komal and this created some confusion in the side.
Later Uttarakhand men defeated Rajasthan 25-18, 19-25, 25-20, 25-20 .
The results: Men: Group A: Tamil Nadu bt Uttar Pradesh 25-14, 25-11, 25-19. Group B: Uttarakhand bt Rajasthan 25-18, 19-25, 25-20, 25-20
Women: Round robin: Railways bt Haryana 25-12, 25-17, 25-18.