BANGALORE: Defending champion Kerala women extended their supremacy in the zone for the third year in a row, and for the 10th time, with a straight-set win over host Karnataka in the 15th edition of the South Zone senior National volleyball championship.
At the Durga Parmeshwari ground here on Sunday, Kerala triumphed 25-21, 25-11, 25-22 in 53 minutes.
Ashwini Kumar was in irresistible form for the champion. The lanky attacker smashed deep and well above the rival blockers to rattle away points. And with P.V. Sheeba and Minimol capitalising on some brilliant setting by the stocky Jomol Kurien, there was no looking back.
Captain Tiji Raju too attacked with vengeance time and again. But for a brief spell where Karnataka took the lead in the third set, it was Kerala all the way. Karnataka relied largely on the junior India player N. Shweta. Erratic at times, the talented player came out with some telling smashes and drops. However, the taller and much more adept Kerala defence managed to block her out at the net.
With Ashwini and Seema unable to penetrate the Kerala defence Karnataka was left playing the catching up game.
After the first two sets Karnataka seemed to get the measure of its rival.
The scores went on even terms from 8-8 to 13-all before the host led 20-17.
Kerala soon levelled at 20-all with Ashwini unleashing a couple of deep smashes as Kerala cruised to the title.
Two wins for TN
Tamil Nadu men played and won two matches on Sunday, as there was a rain interruption on Saturday evening. In the morning the Tamil Nadu proved too good for Kerala, winning 25-18, 25-19, 25-27, 28-26 in 83 minutes. Later in the evening with Ragul and Shoby Thomas coming good, it outplayed Puducherry 25-15, 25-13, 25-23 to remain in contention.
Having won three matches TN will watch the Karnataka-Kerala men’s final league tie with keen interest. If Karnataka wins, the host will lift the title with an all-win record while if Kerala wins there will be a three-way tie and the points will then come into play.
Puducherry men earlier in the day beat AP 25-21, 25-15, 27-25. However the women lost all their matches.
On Sunday morning, AP women snatched their only win with a 25-10, 25-10, 25-13 verdict.
For the second time in this tournament, the spectators’ gallery in the Northern Stand collapsed injuring 10 people.