Quang Ninh, Vietnam, May 21, 2022 – Fired-up Cambodia stunned former 8-time champions Thailand in the men’s third-place playoff clash at the 31st Southeast Asian Games Volleyball Tournament at Quang Ninh Gymnasium as Indonesia repeatedly defeated Philippines to bag bronze medal.

Earlier, Thailand, fielding young bloods in this tournament, produced a fantastic comeback 3-2 win against the Cambodians, in the preliminary Pool B encounter and set up a rematch in the Saturday’s third-place playoff to vie for bronze medal.

Cambodia, which will play host to the next year’s 32nd SEA Games, has taken part in the SEA Games for several editions. Their latest performance in the Southeast Asia’s biggest multi-sports event was the seventh place at the 2019 SEA Games in the Philippines. However, they came much stronger this time for the 31st edition in Vietnam. Coached by Chinese Jun Li, Cambodia surprised Philippines, silver medallists at the previous edition on their home soil, 3-1 before going down in a hotly-contested five-set encounter against Thailand in the same round of pool plays.

Against powerhouses Thailand on Saturday, Cambodia made a confident start to the match, with Sarun Pin and Heng Soeurn instrumental for team in turning the score and establishing control at the beginning of the match. At 23-23, the 198cm-tall Sarun used his height advantage to attack devastatingly at the net and powerful hitter Heng fired down an aggressive spike to help the team win the thrilling first set 25-23.

After that, both sides involved in a see-saw battle, with Thailand wrapping up the second set 25-22 and Cambodia doing likewise in the third set 25-22. The fourth set was one-way traffic with Cambodia simply blown away by a fierce Thailand’s barrage – with left-hander Amorntep Konhan and Napadet Bhinijdee too powerful from spike range. The Thai outfit clinched the comfortable set 25-13 for a 2-2 tie, forcing the fifth set to determine the eventual winners.

Both teams gave it all what they had to win the decider which saw leads change hands for several times. At 13-13, Thailand were beginning to make more errors and Cambodia seized the chance to score two points in a row to entirely end the Thai challenge.

Veasna Voeurn weighed in with 21 points including 20 attacks for Cambodia, with the tall Sarun Pin assisting with 19 points from 17 attacks and 2 blocks. Napadet Bhinijdee scored a team-high 25 points including 16 attacks and 8 aces for Thailand on their losing effort.

Shortly after end of the match, the Cambodians were on cloud nine, ran around the competition court to hug one another and jumped for great joy as this was the history of the country. Beating Thailand was one thing as this victory was a sweet revenge for their loss in the pool plays. More importantly, it was a bronze medal, the first-ever SEA Games volleyball medal for Cambodia.

As Cambodia celebrated their victory, Thailand left the competition court with heads low in great disappointment. This was the first time in 39 years of the Thailand men’s team not to return with a single medal from the SEA Games. They had returned empty-handed in 1983 in Singapore and that was the last time for a return from the SEA Games with empty hands. From 1983 until 2022, the Thailand men’s team have never missed a SEA Games medal, but things turned sour for Thailand this time as they have completed their SEA Games campaign in Vietnam with no medal won.

Meanwhile, in the third-place playoff in the women’s event, Indonesia, the 1983 SEA Games winners powered by sensation Megawati Hangestri Pertiwi, dashed out high hopes of ending the 17-year SEA Games medal drought of Philippines, the team they had beaten 3-2 in the previous edition three years ago in the semifinals and 3-1 at the recent single round-robin preliminary match at the on-going SEA Games in Vietnam.

On Saturday, Indonesia pulled off a dramatic four-set 25-21, 22-25, 25-19, 25-21 win against former six-time SEA Games champions Philippines to claim bronze medal, the similar colour of medal they had achieved in the previous edition of the SEA Games in Philippines in 2019 and the 10th bronze medal won in the SEA Games volleyball tournament.

Megawati Hangestri Pertiwi chipped in with 22 points including 16 attacks and 5 stuff blocks for Indonesia and was well supported by Ratri Wulandari, who finished with 21 points including 17 attacks. Left-hander Myelene Paat led Philippines with 20 points including 18 attacks, assisted by Alyja Daphne Santiago with 12 points including 8 attacks.

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