It was a mixed day for Tamil Nadu in the Federation Cup volleyball tournament at the Rajiv Gandhi indoor stadium, Pramadom, on Wednesday.
While the men took Karnataka in their stride to book a semifinal berth from Group ‘B’, the women ran into a spirited Kerala and went down tamely.
There was no mistaking Tamil Nadu’s superior skills as it won 25-17, 26-24, 25-16, its second triumph in the four-team league. It should, however, be admitted that Karnataka, despite being out of the reckoning with two defeats already, carried the fight into the Tamil Nadu camp.
For Tamil Nadu, the efforts of Shelton Moses, M. Ukkarapandian, John Christopher and G. Pradeepand their quick court coverage baffled Karnataka. But, the trio of A. Sujith, Anup D’costa and Vinayak Rokhade fought gamely to keep Karnataka in contention.
Tamil Nadu took the first set easily at 25-17 but was stretched in the final stages of the second. It managed to prevail 26-24 before dominating the third with a 25-16 win.
The Kerala-Tamil Nadu women’s encounter was a one-sided affair as the home side ran riot, winning 25-11, 25-16, 25-14.
For a side which was scratchy during its win over Himachal Pradesh, Kerala was a transformed team, never allowing the Tamil Nadu girls to settle down.
With Tiji Raju, P.V. Sheeba and skipper N.P. Jishna manning the net well, and with setter, N. Sruthimol troubling Tamil Nadu, Kerala brooked no resistance.
Tamil Nadu’s defence was in tatters and the combine of skipper Narmadha and N. Vasanthi could hardly stop the Kerala spikers.
To make matters worse, there was less co-ordination and more confusion in the back court with B. Gayathri, L. Jennifer and libero S. Devi not clear about who should handle.
The resultant weak first passes left the usually aggressive Devika Devarajan struggle to set up her spikers effectively enough.
Kerala, which went ahead straightaway, pushed its way up steadily through Tiji and Sheeba and took the first set 25-11.
The host ran into some problems early on in the second when the confusion between Sheeba and P.J. Jomol at the back court and a couple of net infringements gave Tamil Nadu the lead.
Kerala sorted out the issue quickly to pull level at seven. It sailed through that set as well as the third to wrap things up in 49 minutes.
With its second straight win in the four-team league, Kerala is virtually assured of the title. It will meet Andhra Pradesh on the final day.
In the day’s other match, Haryana subdued Rajasthan 25-18, 25-16, 27-25 to register its second win in a men’s Group A.
Men: Group ‘A’: Haryana bt Rajasthan 25-18, 25-16, 27-25.
Group ‘B’: Tamil Nadu bt Karnataka 25-17, 26-24, 25-16.
Women (round-robin): Kerala bt Tamil Nadu 25-11, 25-16, 25-14.