Playing its best when the occasion demanded Southern Railway toppled holder Central Railway (Mumbai) with a convincing straight-game win to bag the women's title and the Panimalar Trophy in the Panimalar P. John Memorial all-India volleyball tournament on Sunday. Southern won 25-22, 25-15, 25-22.

In the league earlier, not to mention in the final last year, Central had held the upper hand over Southern. On Sunday, it was a total reversal of form. While Central could hardly get a cohesive touch, Southern looked a tight unit.

Right from the start, Southern had a handy lead and except once in the first game when Central restored parity (21 all), there was no stopping the former.

If Gayathri showed her experience and guile close to the net, then Sowmya came up with good smashes as the contest wore on. This is where Central failed. Much depended on the tall Priyanka Bora's ability to take smashes but she failed to inspire. To some extent Priyanka Khedkar made up with her ‘first passes'.

When Central lost the first game, the team's collective form dipped and this was manifest in the way Southern raised a good lead in the second.

At 19-12 Southern chugged along and nothing mirrored the rival's frustration more than the way its best player Priyanka Bora sent a serve right into the net. Some give-aways from Southern brought momentary hope for Central in the decider but except for the 2-1 lead in the opening stage, the trend did not change even if points went neck and neck.

Sowmya was particularly sharp in angling her spikes and Gayathri repeatedly caught the rival blockers on the wrong-foot with her clever placings.

Earlier for the third place, KSEB (Thiruvanthapuram) defeated Western Railway (Mumbai) 19-25, 25-19, 25-22, 25-21.

S. Machendra Nathan, Additional Secretary and financial advisor, Ministry of Steel, gave away the trophies, while C. Sakthikumr, Director, Panimalar EC presided. The winner took home Rs. 50,000, while the runner-up Rs. 40,000.