Services downs Haryana

Kirti Patil

JAIPUR: Shijas P. Mohammed’s booming serves had Haryana struggling to return as Services unleashed its trump card quite a few times before winning the high-pitch Group B league match 25-16, 21-25, 25-18, 25-23 in the 56th National volleyball championship here on Monday.

Shijas had Rahul Singh and Manu Babu for the backup as it blocked and smashed to set the tone in the first set for Services. Libero Arjun Jakhmola, who dons the National colours, was all over picking up difficult returns to set up the winning rallies.

Services picked up points with confident blocks and daring smashes that left Haryana in a disarray. What prompted Haryana to start without its captain, Amir Singh, was unfathomable.

Making the difference

Amir Singh was introduced in the second set and immediately he made the difference. He picked up some amazing returns, but with age he has also slowed down.

Amir Singh’s vocal volleys, however, were ever evident as he shouted at his mates, argued with the referee and swore at himself for missing to pick the ball.

Nevertheless, Amir and Raghuveer Singh engineered Haryana’s recovery in the second set. Amir set up the rallies while Raghuveer smashed the winners to put the 2004 champion Haryana on the even keel.

After Services won the first set 25-16, Haryana rallied to lead 18-10 before the Services narrowed the gap to three points. But the lead was good enough for Haryana to pull off the second set 25-21.

But Mohammed returned with his serves and smashes that left Haryana gasping for breath. P. K. Dinesh and Siju Joseph also found yawning gaps in Haryana court to smash winners to take the third set 25-18.

With Haryana’s prestige at stake, Amir went all out to bring in the parity. Both the teams moved neck and neck till the 15 points before Services broke away to establish a handy three-point lead.

Despite foul serve at the crucial moment, Services held on and Dinesh smahed out the winner after Haryana had saved two match points.

Schedule haywire

Earlier, the second day’s schedule went haywire after a power breakdown in the indoor hall took away about two-and-a-half hours of play.

In the lower groups, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Delhi, Bengal, Orissa, Chandigarh and Goa started with the wins.

In the women’s section, all top group matches were delayed, while in the lower groups Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh and Jharkhand scored wins.

The results:

Men: Group B: Services bt Haryana 25-16, 21-25, 25-18, 25-23.

Group C: Andhra Pradesh bt Madhya Pradesh 25-17, 25-16, 25-13; Maharashtra bt Bihar 25-14, 30-28, 25-16.

Group D: Delhi bt Jammu and Kashmir 25-16, 27-25, 25-22.

Group E: Bengal bt Andaman and Nicobar 25-10, 25-16, 25-14; Orissa bt Gujarat 25-19, 22-25, 25-23, 25-20.

Group F: Chandigarh bt Puducherry 25-21, 25-11, 25-21; Goa bt Jharkhand 25-21, 25-19, 18-25, 21-25, 15-13.

Women: Group D: Chhattisgarh bt Assam 25-14, 25-12, 25-10; Rajasthan bt Haryana 25-18, 21-25, 25-21, 25-15.

Group E: Uttar Pradesh bt Gujarat 25-11, 25-4, 25-10; Punjab bt Mizoram 25-18, 25-7, 25-11.

Group F: Madhya Pradesh bt Uttaranchal 25-4, 25-20, 25-16; Jharkhand bt Bihar 16-25, 25-23, 25-21, 19-25, 15-6.

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