Kerala overcame a stiff resistance from Haryana to finish on top of Group A in the men’s section of the 62nd National volleyball championship on Wednesday.

The defending champion gave a good account of its ever-improving game to beat Haryana 25-22, 25-21, 25-20 and collect eight out of a maximum of nine points. The 3-2 win against Railways cost the team a point. Railways (seven points) and Haryana (three) managed second and third places to advance to the quarterfinals.

Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka — the toppers in groups C, D, E and F respectively — remained in contention for the other two quarterfinal spots.

Kerala continued to adapt to the cold conditions well and checked a determined Haryana, which made its opponent fight for each point. M.T. Azees showed his effectiveness near the net and K.S. Ratheesh utilised setter V. Manu’s passes to gather points and help Kerala take the first set.

Left-front attacker Amandeep unleashed some deadly hits to lead Haryana’s challenge in the second set but M. Vibin George placed the ball perfectly as Kerala made it 2-0.

Amandeep, with some assistance from blockers Sube Singh and Ranveer, guided Haryana to a five-point lead (15-10) in the next set before George and Ratheesh scripted Kerala’s fight-back. “We had expected a tough match as Haryana is a good side. Due to the cold weather it was difficult to make substitution” said Kerala coach S. Manoj.

In the women’s section, Railways and Kerala took the top positions in Group A and B respectively. Tamil Nadu and Haryana from Group A and West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh from Group B also entered the quarterfinals. Punjab, Chandigarh, Karnataka and Rajasthan stayed in the hunt for last-eight slots after leading the points tables in Groups C, D, E and F respectively.

The results: Men: Group A: Kerala bt Haryana 25-22, 25-21, 25-20; Group C: Uttar Pradesh bt Chhattisgarh 25-19, 19-25, 25-17, 26-24; Group D: Delhi bt Jammu and Kashmir 25-19, 25-1, 25-22; Group E: Andhra Pradesh bt West Bengal 25-19, 25-14, 25-10; Maharashtra bt Bihar 28-30, 25-23, 25-23, 25-23; Group F: Karnataka bt Gujarat 25-16, 25-16, 25-18; Assam bt Himachal Pradesh 25-17, 25-19, 25-23.

Women: Group A: Railways bt Tamil Nadu 25-11, 25-20, 25-16; Group B: Kerala bt Andhra Pradesh 25-12, 25-10, 25-15; Group C: Gujarat bt Bihar 25-1, 25-4, 25-11; Punjab bt Chhattisgarh 25-16, 22-25, 25-6, 25-16; Group D: Chandigarh bt Jammu and Kashmir 25-9, 25-13, 25-4; Group E: Karnataka bt Madhya Pradesh 22-25, 25-8, 25-16, 25-9.

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