As luck would have it, one of the two southern volleyball powerhouses, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, would be out of the title round in both sections of the National youth championship being held here.
Both the States' men's and women's teams made it to the semifinals with facile victories at the West Bengal Volleyball Association courts and qualified to meet each other.
On a day of mostly one-sided matches, the women's match between Haryana and Karnataka went to five sets consuming 90 minutes.
The most eagerly awaited clash in the men's section between last year's finalist Tamil Nadu and Haryana fizzled out as the TN spikes proved too good in tactics and skill to win the contest in three sets in only 50 minutes.
TN's victory was the most fluent in the men's section. The other three winners, defending champion Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala dropped a set each.
Leading 2-1 Karnataka struggled against Rajasthan in the fourth set and was trailing 19-21. Yet, it clawed back to take the set and the match in 92 minutes.
Karnataka also benefitted from the absence of Lalit Kataria, arguably the best player in the Rajasthan teams on technical grounds. As per the tournament rules, no player can play more than two consecutive years in the under-21 championship.
Kataria had played for Rajasthan in 2010 and skipped the meet last year. But it was counted as his second year.
Shockingly, he figured in the group league matches without being noticed!
The semifinal line-ups: Men: Uttar Pradesh vs. Karnataka; Kerala vs. Tamil Nadu. Women: Kerala vs. Tamil Nadu; West Bengal vs. Haryana.
Quarterfinals: Men: UP bt HP 26-28, 25-20, 25-15, 25-18; Karnataka bt Rajasthan 25-22, 25-18, 20-25, 25-22; Kerala bt Maharashtra 25-15, 27-29, 25-17, 25-11; TN bt Haryana 25-15, 25-18, 25-16.
Women: Kerala bt Jharkhand 25-15, 25-14, 25-13; TN bt UP 25-15, 25-18, 25-23; West Bengal bt Maharashtra 25-22, 25-8, 25-17; Haryana bt Karnataka 25-22, 17-25, 25-11, 17-25, 15-7.
Keywords: National volleyball championship