Singapore, June 15, 2015 – Asian powerhouses Thailand stretched their invincibility in the SEA Games women’s volleyball competition to consecutive eight times following their convincing straight-set 25-18 25-18 25-15 victory over archrivals Vietnam in the final showdown at the OCBC Arena Area on Monday.
Thailand, world No.12 and bronze medallists at the recent Asian Senior Women’s Championship in Tianjin, China, had successively met Vietnam in eight finals of the SEA Games and the Thai squad proved too strong for the Vietnamese to beat them all in every final they met.
A total of seven women’s teams contested the volleyball competition in the 28th South East Asian (SEA) Games, the biennial sports extravaganza which had returned to Singapore after 20 years. The Singapore’s last edition dated back to 1993.
Thailand, which had captured the SEA Games crown consecutively from 2001 to 2013, seven times in total, were pre-tournament favourites in Singapore and they were drawn in Pool A together with Myanmar and hosts Singapore, while Vietnam joined Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines in Pool B.
Thailand outclassed Myanmar 3-0 in their opening match on June 11 before thrashing the host side 3-0 the following day to top Pool A. Singapore stunned Myanmar 3-2 to finish second in the pool.
Like Thailand, Vietnam also got the SEA Games off to a flying start with a scintillating 3-0 win over Malaysia on June 10 before narrowly beating Indonesia 3-2 on June 11 and brushing off the Philippines 3-0 in their last pool round-robin preliminaries on June 13. As expected, Vietnam led Pool B with a clean sweep of victories, followed respectively by Indonesia, the Philippines and Malaysia.
The do-or-die semi-finals on Sunday saw Pool A winners Thailand produce a magnificent come-from-behind 3-1 (21-25 25-13 25-23 25-13) victory over Pool B runners-up Indonesia, with Pool B winners Vietnam crushing Singapore 25-17 25-12 25-14. Due to their disappointment in the semi-finals, Singapore and Indonesia had to be content with the shared bronze medal.
In the final showdown on Monday, Thailand fielded a strong line-up including hard-hitting Onuma Sittirak, Pleumjit Thinkaow, Wilavan Apinyapong, Nootsara Tomkom and two young talents Ajcharaporn Kongyot and Hattaya Bamrungsuk, both of whom competed in the silver-winning Thailand team at the recent Asian Women’s U23 Championship in Manila, Philippines. Vietnam were also strong with the likes of Do Thi Minh and Nguyen Thi Ngoc Hoa.
With the greater experience and form, Thailand shone through their exceptional tactics to baffle the oppositions’ fightback attempts. After taking the comfortable first two sets with the similar margin 25-18 25-18, Thailand stormed on their superb form to capture the third set 25-15, the match and the SEA Games crown.
This was the Thailand’s successive eight titles and 12 in total in the SEA Games. They claimed their first SEA Games crown in 1989 and repeated the feat in 1991. Thailand went down to the Philippines in the 1993 showdown, but regained the lost pride in 1995 and 1997. In 1999, hosts Brunei did not organise the volleyball competition. The sport discipline was resumed in 2001 which saw Thailand seal the victory after beating Vietnam for the first time in the showdown.
Since then, Thailand and Vietnam had met in the final for every SEA Games, but the former proved steadier to beat the latter in all finals to win the titles in 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2013 and 2015 in Singapore.