Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh will contest the boys' final of the sub-junior National volleyball championships for the fourth year in a row. Both teams recorded emphatic semifinal victories at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium here on Saturday.
Having won on all of the last three occasions, Tamil Nadu will seek to claim victory in this — the 33rd — edition of the competition too, and on the evidence of the day's straightforward 25-22, 25-16, 25-12 win over Kerala, it is only a reasonable expectation.
Uttar Pradesh, looked no lightweight itself, disdainfully dispatching Rajasthan 25-15, 25-13, 25-20 in the other semifinal.
Kerala began well, with setter T.R. Sethu creating moves down the left hand side for K.P. Amal Mohan and Akhil Raj to attack from the back.
Although Tamil Nadu kept pace with Sumith Joseph performing similar attacking duties for it, Kerala led 22-20 and looked favourite to win the opening set.
But Mohan and Raj failed to receive two consecutive serves and the momentum firmly swung in the other direction. The defending champion capitalised thoroughly, closing out the set 25-22.
Setter S. Amarnath used the short arc to great effect, his early openings adroitly finished off by the excellent M. Sathish Kumar.
Kerala switched play well but remained predictable all along, enabling Kumar and R. Manikandan to make block after block.
After the Tamil Nadu took the second set 25-16, the third was going to be another procession, and the opponent only made things easier with a series of errors.
The girls' final, meanwhile, will feature Kerala and Tamil Nadu after the sides posted contrasting semifinal wins.
The former made short work of Rajasthan while Tamil Nadu, expected to win at a canter, was stretched to five sets by West Bengal.
The results (semifinals): Boys: TN bt Kerala 25-22, 25-16, 25-12; UP bt Rajasthan 25-15, 25-13, 25-20.
Girls: Kerala bt Rajasthan 25-18, 25-16, 25-8; TN bt West Bengal 25-20, 24-26, 25-17, 17-25, 19-17 . — Sports Reporter