Had Balwant Singh Sagwal alias ‘Ballu', who starred for India on many occasions, been alive, he would have felt proud seeing his younger son Narender Singh spike with immense power and precision in the Velammal Silver Jubilee 59th Senior National volleyball championship at the Nehru Indoor Stadium here.
Narender, playing his maiden Nationals, gave Haryana reason to smile. The youngster was responsible for his team scripting a 25-18, 28-26, 24-26, 25-23 victory over Karnataka in a Group ‘B' match on Tuesday. With the win, Haryana, after the loss to Railways the other day, can now breathe easy.
Others too contributed to Haryana's success. Surjeet Singh angled his smashes powerfully at times, softly at others with equal success. Skipper Sube Singh and Jitendra Singh dismantled Karnataka with their service and attack.
The bane for Karnataka, in spite of possessing gifted players such as Vinod Kumar, Anup D'Costa and Ravikumar, has been its inconsistency and abysmal failure to close out matches.
Having lost to Uttarakhand in its inaugural match, Karnataka made all the right noises initially against Haryana. It had quite a few chances in the first and second sets, but couldn't conjure up the finishing touches.
Haryana's chief coach Om Prakash was all praise for Narender. Prakash further said the return of star player Sanjay Kumar — currently playing for a club in Iran — would bolster the side. “He is our trump-card. He'll be here on December 15 and will play in the quarterfinals.”
Tamil Nadu came out with flying colours in its second group match with Services in a Group ‘A' contest. After the 25-16, 25-17, 25-17 triumph, TN has assured itself of a place in the quarterfinals.
Whether it finishes first or second in the group will depend on its third and final match against Kerala, which defeated Punjab convincingly 25-11, 25-18, 25-14.
From Group ‘B', Uttarakhand qualified for the quarterfinals with its second successive victory. The 25-19, 25-21, 30-28 margin over Railways sealed Uttarakhand's place in the last eight.
The results: Men: Group ‘A': Kerala bt Punjab 25-11, 25-18, 25-14; Tamil Nadu bt Services 25-16, 25-17, 25-17; ‘B': Haryana bt Karnataka 25-18, 28-26, 24-26, 25-23; ‘D': Delhi bt Puducherry 25-21, 25-20, 23-25, 25-21; ‘E': Chhattisgarh bt Andaman 25-10, 25-12, 25-17; ‘F': Andhra Pradesh bt Himachal Pradesh 25-27, 25-18, 25-20, 25-15; Maharashtra bt Jharkhand 25-18, 25-23, 25-10.
Women: ‘A': Railways bt TN 25-12, 25-20, 25-17; Andhra Pradesh bt Chandigarh 25-22, 25-20, 25-14; ‘B': West Bengal bt Jharkhand 25-11, 25-9, 25-20; Kerala bt Karnataka 26-24, 25-20, 25-20; ‘C': Rajasthan bt Bihar 25-11, 25-7, 25-14; Uttar Pradesh bt Tripura 25-16, 25-21, 25-14; ‘D': Maharashtra bt Andaman 25-2, 25-9, 25-7; Uttarakhand bt Jammu & Kashmir 15-25, 25-16, 25-12, 25-17; ‘E': Gujarat bt Puducherry 25-22, 25-15, 25-23; Madhya Pradesh bt Haryana 25-23, 25-18, 25-19; ‘F': Himachal Pradesh bt Punjab 25-21, 25-18, 25-20; Chhattisgarh bt Assam 25-12, 25-6, 25-13.
Keywords: National volleyball championship