Services displayed remarkable resilience to topple National champion Kerala 22-25, 24-26, 25-23, 25-18, 26-24 in a crucial men’s Group A match of the Federation Cup volleyball tournament at the Rajiv Gandhi indoor stadium, Pramadom, on Thursday.
However, Services will know its fate only after Kerala and Haryana play their final group game.
Though lacking big names compared to its rival, Services showed that it was a well-drilled side. The players, notably Sujith Sebastian, Kuldeep Singh, Pankaj Sharma, Jince Varghese and V.P. Jishad, displayed never-say-die spirit and kept the host on its toes.
The problem that haunted Kerala yet again was its failure to ensure effective surveillance of the back court, negating its supremacy at the net. This helped Services storm back into the contest despite Kerala taking the first two sets.
The home team seemed well on course for a straight-set win when it went ahead in the third. However, Services exploited Kerala’s weakness in the back court to stage a comeback. It took the set 25-23.
Buoyed by the success, Services came up with a dazzling show in the fourth, clinching the set 25-18 and pushing the contest into the decider.
Backed by the crowd, the Kerala players gave it their all but could not prevent Services from completing an amazing victory. The final set was a 50-point thriller which the latter won 26-24.
The only sore point was the attitude of the Services players who kept disputing line calls throughout the match.
AP women down HP
Earlier, Andhra Pradesh downed Himachal Pradesh 25-13, 25-23, 22-25, 25-14 in an inconsequential match of the four-team women’s round-robin league.
Before the start of the day’s proceedings, homage was paid to P. Margalingam, chairman, Referees Board, Volleyball Federation of India, who passed away in Bangalore on Wednesday.
Men: Group A: Services bt Kerala 22-25, 24-26, 25-23, 25-18, 26-24.
Women (round-robin): Andhra Pradesh bt Himachal Pradesh 25-13, 25-23, 22-25, 25-14.
Keywords: Federation Cup volleyball