ONGC' s power and efficiency proved too much for BPCL, Kochi as the Dehradun team completed its third win in four games to top Group B and enter the men's semifinal of the IOB Platinum Jubilee National Club volleyball championship at the Montfort indoor stadium on Thursday.
More than its win, ONGC also helped Chennai Customs to qualify in the process.
Customs had earlier defeated Punjab Police to achieve the minimum requirement to remain in the run for a semifinal berth from the group. But its passage depended on the outcome of the last match in the group league and there things panned out just as it had hoped for.
In the semifinals on Friday, IOB will play Customs while ONGC takes on HSIIDC.
It was an exhibition of power play and wily drops that dominated the proceedings. ONGC had a collection of impact making spikers but none personified the team's mood better than Mandeep Singh, who served with energy and spiked with raw power. More often he provided the winning touch in a rally. That helped uplift the team's approach and each player be it Rohit, Rathish, Guruchand or Sube, rose to the occasion.
But the start was different. The Kochi side was in a hurry and before its opponent could settle down it raced away. Tom Joseph led the fight with some mid-court play. Rajeev was sharp so were Sayooj and Vipin in taking turns to thud the ball. But the domination ended soon and the story took a different and decisive turn.
In comparison the Chennai Customs-Punjab Police match was scrappy. For a team which had lost both its earlier matches, Punjab Police appeared the weakest of the lot. The team had the strength and skill but the coordination was missing. Much of it changed for the better against Customs which appeared to struggle periodically.
With Sivabalan looking a trifle subdued, perhaps a touch of fatigue after his heroic match the previous day, Customs had to depend on John Christopher and the young man did not disappoint.
Mention has also to be made of Yuvaraj and Vikram in the shoring up process when the chips were down.
For the Punjab cops, Navjit was alert at the net and even though Ravikant disappointed with his smashes, Rajbir made up for that. Overall the dash was unmistakable but the consistency was missed.
In the women's section Southern and Central Railway teams continued to occupy the top two spots with fluent wins again.
Both the teams meet in the league's last encounter on Saturday and that virtually will be the final.
The results: Men: Group B: Chennai Customs bt Punjab Police 25-21, 25-27, 25-21, 18-25, 15-12; ONGC bt BPCL 17-25, 25-14, 33-31, 25-14.
Women: Central Railway bt Dr. Sivanthi Club 25-28, 25-12, 25-22; Southern Railway bt Eastern Railway 25-21, 25-19, 17-25, 25-12; KSEB bt SAI, Tellicherry 25-18, 25-20, 25-12.
Friday's matches: Men's semifinals: IOB v Chennai Customs (4 p.m.); HSIIDC v ONGC (6 p.m.)
Women: KSEB v Dr. Sivanthi Club (11 a.m.), Eastern Railway v SAI, Tellicherry (12.30 p.m.).
Keywords: IOB volleyball championship