Principal Correspondent

VATAKARA: Getting young women to form a team had been a big problem for Jharkhand.

The team arrived here for the ninth National youth (under-21) volleyball championship with just six girls, without a libero and without any substitutes. Even more incredibly, a couple of players played barefoot.

Host Kerala, the defending champion, however, showed no mercy, rushing to a straight sets victory in a little over half hour at the Narayana Nagar courts here on Monday evening.

"Some of our players are injured, some are we could not manage a full team," said the Jharkhand coach Sangita Herenz. "And these are just school girls, just 15 and 16."

With Kerala fielding the best of its university talent, which is among the best in the country, the Jharkand girls were mere spectators for a major part of the match.

Hard-earned wins

However, defending champion Karnataka and runner-up Kerala were forced to sweat in the men's league though both won their games in straight sets.

With rain washing away the opening session last evening, the two were forced to play under the merciless midday sun on Monday.

Karnataka began nicely but lost its way a bit in the second set against Jammu and Kashmir.

Kerala found the going tough against gritty Manipur, which had a strong bunch of jump servers.

The results (league):

Men: Group A: Karnataka bt J&K 25-15, 25-23, 25-15.

Group B: Kerala bt Manipur 25-20, 25-18, 26-24.

Group C: Haryana bt Tripura 25-7, 25-15, 25-17; AP bt Jharkhand 25-15, 25-22, 25-14.

Women: Group A: Kerala bt Jharkhand 24-4, 25-2, 25-8.

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