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Punjab through to quarterfinals

K. Keerthivasan

Volleyball / Karnataka thrashes Andhra Pradesh

— Photo: S.S. Kumar

Standing tall:Rajvir Singh Bassi of Punjab spikes in the match against Orissa.

CHENNAI: There was a time indeed when Punjab men ruled the roost in National championships. From the mid 1960s to the late 70s, there wasn't a championship without Punjab in the podium. And majority of the wins came with the active participation of a great player who went by the name of Balwant Singh Sagwal ‘Ballu'.

Now, Punjab, which last triumphed in 1999 in Salem, is a pale shadow of its former self. The Velammal Silver Jubilee 59th senior National volleyball championship saw Punjab bring a young team without its top players as they are simultaneously taking part in the All-India Police meet in Bangalore.

The team with only Rajvir Singh Bassi, as the most experienced player, managed to retain its place in the Elite Group with a 25-19, 25-19, 26-24 win over Orissa in the quarterfinal qualifying match at the Nehru indoor stadium here on Thursday. Punjab will take on Uttarakhand in the quarterfinals.

The match didn't touch great heights as both teams committed egregious mistakes at the net and from the back. Gagandeep Singh as setter got better as the match progressed. The double block Punjab employed managed to ward off the spiking capacities of its attacker Syed Solaman and Universal Obedur Rahaman.

Orissa had its moments in the third and final set when it led 14-9, thanks to Solaman and Rahaman in no small measure. It even had a set point at 24-23, but Punjab raised its level to close out the set and the match 26-24.

Punjab chief coach Dal Singh Brar said his team comprising mostly college players, has done a decent job so far.

“If our top players Gurinder Singh, Gurvinder Singh, Satnam Singh and Suraj Prakash had taken part, we would have surely finished in the top four. Nothing is lost even now. We are confident of taking on Uttarakhand,” he said.

Later in another one-sided contest, Karnataka men tamed Andhra Pradesh 25-21, 25-16, 25-17 to qualify for the last eight clash where it will challenge Tamil Nadu.

The quarterfinal line-up:

Men: Tamil Nadu vs Karnataka; Services vs Railways; Kerala vs Haryana; Punjab vs Uttarakhand.

Women: Railways vs H.P; TN vs West Bengal; Andhra Pradesh vs Karnataka; UP vs Kerala.

The results (quarterfinal qualifying matches):

Men: Punjab bt Orissa 25-19, 25-19, 26-24; Karnataka bt AP 25-21, 25-16, 25-17.

Women: U.P bt Chandigarh 26-24, 25-17, 25-19; HP bt Jharkhand 25-13, 25-10, 25-14 .

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