For a team keen to defend the title, ONGC (Dehradun) looks to be on the right track.
In a Group ‘A’ contest of the National Club volleyball championship here on Wednesday, the defending champion scripted its second successive straight-set victory — this time a 25-19, 25-20, 25-10 verdict against Western Railway (Mumbai).
In another Group ‘A’ match, Chennai Customs disposed of a dispirited HSIIDC (Haryana) 25-23, 27-25, 25-19.
After a drubbing at the hands of ONGC a few days back, this win for Customs must have given a huge boost to its self-confidence.
The manner in which Western Railway fought back to beat HSIIDC the other night, one thought the inter-Railway champion would be a tough nut to crack. But ONGC would have none of it.
Western Railway had a head-start taking a 4-0 lead with attackers Ankit Choudhary and Gurjent Singh looking solid.
ONGC slowly regrouped, with its offence rising to the challenge. Subba Rao’s excellent control at the net coupled with Mandeep Singh and Navjit Singh’s spikes saw the champion team race ahead to a 19-13 lead, and the first set was over in quick time.
Western Railway took the attack to the opponent in the second. It was neck and neck till 14. Ankit was spot-on with his spikes, and Western Railway scored quite a few points banking on the attacker.
For a while, ONGC skipper Lalit Kumar was very erratic, which helped Western Railway keep up with ONGC.
Once Subba Rao got going and Mandeep started firing, ONGC secured the lead and maintained it throughout.
The third set was done the moment ONGC took a 17-5 lead. Customs doesn’t consist of players with great physique or height, but they make it up with their spirit and energy.
Attacker John Christopher and Universal Shaheem were consistent and hardly put a foot wrong.
Vickram and Dinagaran blocked successfully while libero Kanakaraj provided the much-needed staying power during rallies.
IOB registered an impressive 25-22, 25-23, 25-18 victory over ICF in a Group ‘B’ tie, its second in as many matches. Naveen Raja Jacob was exceptional with his smashes and blocking while Ukkarapandian played a stellar role as a setter.
The results: Men: Group ‘A’: ONGC (Dehradun) bt Western Railway (Mumbai) 25-19, 25-20, 25-10; Chennai Customs bt HSIIDC (Haryana) 25-23, 27-25, 25-19.
Group ‘B’: IOB (Chennai) bt ICF (Chennai) 25-22, 25-23, 25-18; BPCL (Kochi) bt Income Tax (Hyderabad) 25-23, 25-22, 25-18.