Kerala men and women made it the final of the 14th National youth volleyball championship here on Sunday.
En route to its ninth entry into the title round, Kerala men outplayed Tamil Nadu technically and tactically to win 23-25, 25-20, 25-23, 21-25, 15-9 in one of the best matches of this tournament.
Earlier, defending champion Uttar Pradesh staved off Karnataka's challenge to win the first semifinal. The 25-27, 25-15, 25-20, 17-25, 15-13 victory in 100 minutes gave U.P. its third entry into the title round.
Reigning women's champion Kerala made it to the 12th final outplaying Tamil Nadu 25-18, 25-16, 25-23 in 65 minutes.
In Monday's final, Kerala will take on two-time champion West Bengal. The host came through a tough match to stop last year's runner-up Haryana 25-21, 22-25, 25-20, 26-24 in 96 minutes.
In the history of this championship, only Kerala (11 times) and West Bengal have won the women's title. When these two last met, in 2008, at Bardhaman in West Bengal, the host had triumphed.
Outstanding all-round play by Kerala's Kamalakshan Vivek, killer blocks and quick-silver attack proved too much for Tamil Nadu, which,after winning the first, failed to find a method to stop Kerala.
Despite losing the first set, U.P. rallied brilliantly through the tall spikers Ahmed Shaheem and Mohit Rathi. Karnataka prospered mainly owing to poor blocking by U.P. especially in the fourth and fifth sets but Karnataka players made unforced errors at crucial points to lose the match.
In the decider, Karnataka enjoyed two-point lead after changing sides at 8-7. U.P. rallied to equalise twice before pulling away to victory from 13-all.
The results: Semifinals: Men: U.P. bt Karnataka 25-27, 25-15, 25-20, 17-25, 15-13; Kerala bt TN 23-25, 25-20, 25-23, 21-25, 15-9. Women: Kerala bt Tamil Nadu 25-18, 25-16, 25-23; West Bengal bt Haryana 25-21, 22-25, 25-20, 26-24. — Special Correspondent
Keywords: volleyball championship