Punjab women put up a creditable performance to upset last year’s quarterfinalist Himachal Pradesh 25-18, 25-10, 25-12 and enter the last eight of the 62nd National volleyball championship at the Teerthanker Mahaveer University indoor sports complex here on Thursday.
Karnataka overcame a depleted Andhra Pradesh 26-24, 25-14, 25-18 to take the other quarterfinal berth.
Rajasthan defeated Uttar Pradesh 25-17, 25-21, 23-25, 25-22 while Punjab rallied to beat Karnataka 23-25, 25-20, 25-21, 25-18 to complete the last eight line-up in the men’s competition.
It was a memorable day for the Punjab women’s team, as it first beat Chandigarh in the playoffs in the morning session before humbling Himachal to reach the quarterfinals.
“It was 10 years ago that our team made it to the last eight,” said Punjab coach Neelam Rani.
Supported well by setter Nidhika, Anamika Chaudhary initiated some good attacks, while Asha Lata blocked nicely to keep Punjab ahead.
Himachal committed several mistakes to spoil the good work of its front left attacker Neha Negi and concede the first set.
Anamika excelled with her attacks to strengthen Punjab’s position, while Himachal suffered due to its poor defence in the second set.
Signs of improvement
Himachal showed signs of improvement in the third set, but Punjab raised its game to clinch the match.
Karnataka, which beat Rajasthan in the playoffs, had a clear advantage even before the start of its match against Andhra, a semifinalist in the previous edition.
Three Andhra players were not available for the tie after questions were raised about their eligibility. It left the side with just nine players and minimised the possibility of substitution.
However, the courageous Andhra women, led by G. Lohitha, J. Maheshwari and C.H. Rajitha, showed better coordination and gave a tough challenge to Karnataka, which managed to fight back and win the first set narrowly.
Karnataka also struggled due to its setter B.G. Anusha’s ankle injury, but Mallika Shetty placed the ball brilliantly to give a 2-0 lead. In the third set, K.U. Megha and G.T. Nalina displayed impressive skills to ensure Karnataka’s victory.
The results: Men: Playoffs: Uttar Pradesh bt Delhi 25-18, 28-26, 25-19; Karnataka bt Andhra Pradesh 25-19, 25-19, 25-17.
Quarterfinals: Qualifiers: Rajasthan bt Uttar Pradesh 25-17, 25-21, 23-25, 25-22; Punjab bt Karnataka 23-25, 25-20, 25-21, 25-18.
Women: Playoffs: Punjab bt Chandigarh 25-19, 25-6, 25-18; Karnataka bt Rajasthan 21-25, 25-15, 25-20, 25-20.
Quarterfinals: Qualifiers: Punjab bt Himachal Pradesh 25-18, 25-10, 25-12; Karnataka bt Andhra Pradesh 26-24, 25-14, 25-18.
Keywords: National Volleyball Championship