M.C. Raman

Pune: Tamil Nadu went down to the holder Haryana 25-20, 20-25, 25-19, 22-25, 10-15 in the men's Group X of the senior National volleyball championship at the Siva Chhatrapati sports complex, Balawadi, near here on Monday.

Services, the former champion, crashed to its first defeat in the same group, losing to Punjab 21-25, 17-25, 25-19, 20-25.

Haryana is without Amir Singh and Sanjay Kumar, whose shoulder injury is keeping him out of the major event on doctor's advice. Yet Haryana came back strongly to wrest the match despite messing up its game midway. Tamil Nadu made it 18-all in the second set and still lost it. Tamil Nadu got a penalty point in the fourth set and should have pressed home the advantage.

In fact, Tamil Nadu got off to a good start with neat first pass. And setter Sundaram did an excellent job. Only Karthick tended to be a bit erratic.

Otherwise, the team was in good control with Sayeekrishnan, Nadarajan and blocker Shelton Moses playing well. But at crucial stages the faulty jump serves and backcourt attack, coupled with some wrong setting, led to Tamil Nadu's loss.

Tamil Nadu did well to block out Haryana's main spiker Jitender Singh. But Surjeet Singh became unstoppable as he was hitting away ball superbly. Even Darshan Singh spiked with good control. With Dinesh Kumar and Sube Singh, though not at their best, blocking now and then Haryana managed to come back into the game. In the decider Harayana took a 12-8 lead with Surjeet Singh spiking brilliantly.

Punjab shines

Services was pathetic with Shijas not in his element and the Punjab spikers rose to the occasion. Gurchand Singh began Punjab's attack with some thundering smashes and that was followed by Nirmal Singh, Sarwan Singh and Mandeep Singh. Punjab's most experienced setter Suraj Praksh did a neat job, using the arc passes pretty well.

The Punjab spikers responded brilliantly. Only in the third set did Services block out the Punjab players. The towering Ujwal Shetty, Sarath Kumar and Rajil Mathew help the Army team to put a check on the rival spikers. But Punjab came back in the fourth set to wrap up the match.

The Railway men defeated Karnataka 25-21, 25-17, 27-25.

All the three women's matches were one-sided as the holder Kerala thrashed Bengal and Railways outplayed Delhi. Tamil Nadu crushed Chandigarh.

The results (Phase II): Men: Gr. X: Haryana bt Tamil Nadu 22-25, 25-20, 19-25, 22-25, 15-10; Punjab bt Services 25-21, 25-17, 19-25, 25-20.

Women: Gr. X: Kerala bt Bengal 25-15, 25-17, 25-14; Tamil Nadu bt Chandigarh 25-19, 25-16, 25-16; Gr. Y: Railways bt Delhi 25-15, 25-9, 25-13.

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