Tamil Nadu’s semi win takes the cake

Chennai: Tamil Nadu’s performance against Uttarakhand in the final of the 62nd senior national volleyball championship at Moradabad, UP, on December 29 came in for all-round appreciation.

No team had won the title with so much authority in recent times. Tamil Nadu hardly put a foot wrong in the final.

Every member of the team contributed handsomely to the demolition of Uttarakhand in straight sets. M. Naveen Raja Jacob, the team’s lynchpin in attack, chose the Moradabad triumph the best of his three national titles.

Tamil Nadu’s hunger for success was reflected in their all-win record in the league-cum-knockout tournament.

When Deccan Chronicle asked the main six and the libero (the exclusive back-court player) about their most memorable moment of the championship, almost all of them chose Tamil Nadu’s exciting five-set win over Services in the semi-final ahead of the final, which was a cakewalk.

The thrill of coming back and winning against a reborn Services, who had lost to Tamil Nadu meekly in the league, was clearly more to the state volleyball stars’ liking.

M. Naveen Raja Jacob (attacker): The Services win was fantastic because we rallied from 0-4 in the decider. Even though the situation was clearly not in our favour, we never gave up hope. The confidence that “we wouldn’t lose” was always with us. The semi-final win was testament to Tamil Nadu’s mental strength.

M. Ukkrapandian (setter): There is no margin for error in the decider. Despite a disastrous start, we managed to beat Services and it was a special performance. It’s even more memorable for me because I won eight points on my serves in the fifth set.

G.R. Vaishnav (blocker): I enjoyed the Services win because it brought the unity among us to the fore. The match was a rollercoaster but we never lost the self-belief.

S. Kanagaraj (libero): Without a doubt, the most memorable moment was beating Services, who had been transformed after the league stage. Our coach Sundaram had warned us not to be complacent. But the script didn’t go according to our plan. In the end, though, we got our act together for a thrilling win, which is always more enjoyable than a straightforward result.

C. Jerome Vinith (universal): It had to be the semi-final win because it paved the way for me to play in the final in my first nationals. I gave my best in the final and it wouldn’t have been possible had we lost in the semis.

V. John Christopher (attacker): My fitness wasn’t up to the mark. But I relied on my experience to play reasonably well. I would remember the nationals as a tournament that has given me the motivation to get back into shape.

G.S. Akhin (blocker): Both the semi-final and the final were memorable: the first for the challenge it posed and the second for giving us an opportunity to click as a team.

( Source : dc )
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