In a close match which saw several momentum shifts, ONGC (Dehradun) successfully defended its National club volleyball championship men’s title defeating IOB (Chennai) 25-20, 19-25, 21-25, 25-16, 15-12 in the final here on Sunday.
On a day when spectators had to wait outside the venue to catch a glimpse of the action — nearly 4,000 people thronged to witness the finals — the women’s summit clash turned out to be a fitting treat as Kerala State Electricity Board (Thiruvananthapuram) defeated Southern Railway 25-18, 25-20, 20-25, 25-22 in an entertaining contest.
ONGC took home Rs. 2 lakh while IOB had to be content with Rs. 1.5 lakh. The KSEB women bagged the Panimalar Trophy and a cash prize of Rs. 1 lakh, while S. Railway got Rs. 75,000.
Attacker Gurchand Singh was the most consistent player in the men’s final.
With minimum effort, he unleashed numerous winners and blocked really well.
His performance was instrumental in ONGC defending its title.
Subba Rao’s spikes and blocks were also a major factor in ONGC’s triumph.
IOB’s Selvaprabhu’s performance was like the curate’s egg. While his attack was more or less spot-on, his reception wasn’t satisfactory.
Blocker Vaishnav, too, was excellent only in patches, while attacker Karthik’s display could be termed the lone redeeming factor for IOB.
The KSEB women were the better team on paper. And as expected, KSEB played a near-perfect two sets with everyone contributing in equal measure. Attackers Tiji Raju, Sheeba and Universal Jomol did what was expected of them. Jomol and Tiji were outstanding with their spikes.
Blocking was a major factor that enabled KSEB go through when the going got tough. Cruising at one stage, KSEB faltered in the third.
The team’s first pass wasn’t up to the mark and errors started to creep in at crucial moments.
It was in the third set that Railway’s Mini Mol Abraham made her presence felt.
Quiet in the first set, Mini Mol peaked in the third with her trademark dipping smashes. Railway looked like taking the match into the decider when it took a healthy 20-16 lead in the fourth, but KSEB came back strongly, finishing the match with a beautiful spike from Jomol.
With this win KSEB has qualified for the Asian club championship to be held in Vietnam in August later this year.
KSEB coach P.A. Joseph said, “We have won all the all-India tournaments we’ve participated in this year. Actually, we should have finished the match in straight sets.”
The results: Men: Final: ONGC bt IOB 25-20, 19-25, 21-25, 25-16, 15-12. Third place: BPCL bt Western Railway 25-12, 25-14, 19-25, 25-16.
Women: Final: KSEB bt Southern Railway 25-18, 25-20, 20-25, 25-22.
Special Prizes: Men: Best attacker: Naveen Raja Jacob (IOB), Best all-rounder: Ankit Choudhary (Western Railway), Best setter: Ranjit Singh (ONGC), Best blocker: Vaishnav (IOB), Best libero: Kiran Philip (BPCL).
Women: Best blocker: Tiji Raju (KSEB), Best Universal: Pooja Rani (Mayor’s Club, Hyderabad), Best setter: Shanty Elias (S. Railway), Promising player: Sindhuja (St. Joseph’s COE), Best libero: Yogavathi (S. Railway).
Keywords: National club volleyball championship