Nakhon Pathom, Thailand, June 24, 2022 – In-form India and Thailand got their campaigns in the “21st Princess Cup” 3rd AVC Women’s Challenge Cup off to perfect starts with convincing straight-set wins as Malaysia produced a fantastic comeback 3-2 win against Uzbekistan on Day 1 of the single round-robin tournament at Nakhon Pathom Sports Centre Gymnasium on Friday.

India, Singapore, Malaysia, Uzbekistan, Hong Kong China and hosts Thailand, represented by the Thailand U20 squad prepping for the 21st Asian Women’s U20 Championship in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan between July 4 and 11, are testing their mettle to vie for top honour and the prestigious Princess Cup at stake. Excluding Thailand, the remaining five teams are also striving for their success in the AVC Women’s Challenge Cup.

On the very first day of the six-day tournament, Malaysia, powered by the 184cm-tall captain Low Mei Cing, defied against all odds to beat the up-and-coming Uzbekistan, which had early this month gained experience and exposure in the 14th Asian Women’s U18 Championship at the same competition site here following their 8th-place finish.

Malaysia, 5th at the recent Vietnam-hosted 31st Southeast Asian Games, lost the first hard-fought two sets 23-25, 21-25, but fought back hard to win the remaining three sets 25-16, 25-16, 15-11 for a stunning come-from-behind 3-2 win against Uzbekistan.

Low Mei Cing scored a match-high 27 points from 20 attacks, 4 blocks and 3 aces for Malaysia, while Siah Irene Qi Min kept good company to add 24 points. Ezozokhon Sativoldieva scored 23 points on Uzbekistan’s losing effort.

After the match, Malaysia head coach Liu Foo Yeon stopped by for a brief interview, “Despite the win, my satisfaction is just 60% for my girls’ performance in our first match against Uzbekistan. We did too many mistakes. So, we have to improve on our serves and game coverage in our next match.”

Team captain Low Mei Cing added, “This is our team’s first time to win in international competitions. Congratulations to everyone in my team. I presently study in Chinese Taipei and just came back to join my team here and prove our better performance than what we did the previous years.”

Malaysia will next take on Hong Kong, China, which succumbed to straight-set defeat to Thailand on Friday.

Hong Kong, China played their best in the first two sets against the formidable host side, showcasing their resilience through their powerful attacks from Chim Wing Lam and the 185cm Yeung Sau Mei, the team’s tallest player, but found Thailand a class above to go down 19-25, 23-25.

Hong Kong, China’s good show was gradually diminishing in the third set with the loss of strength and dexterity caused by the unexpected injury of Yeung Sau Mei in the second set, which saw her leave the competition court. Since then, the Thai girls started to produce the goods by taking turns tearing the rivals’ defence into shreds with their destructive attacks to win the one-sided set 25-11.

Despite the sensation straight-set win, Thai head coach Thanakit Inleang was not satisfied with his girls’ performance, citing that they made a lot of mistakes, particularly in the first set.

“My players played nervously in their first match, but I hope that they can come up with better performance in the next matches,” he said.

Team captain Donphon Sinpho, who topscored with 17 points for Thailand, added, “Our team had much pressure in this competitive match, but fortunately we overcame the pressure to win it. We will try to do better in the next matches.”

On Saturday, Thailand will take on Singapore in a duel of Thai coaches, as Thanakij Inleang was the head coach of Thailand, while another Thai coach, Sunthorn Phoseeta, coached the Singaporean outfit.

The match between Singapore and India turned out to be one-way traffic as though attempting to come up with some fierce defence and show, the Singaporeans proved no match against the well-trained India, spearheaded by hard-attacking Nirmal and N.S. Saranya.

India cruised to a sensational 3-0 (25-16, 25-19, 25-8) victory against Singapore. Nirmal chipped in with 15 points for India, with Saranya N.S. and Soorya S adding 13 and 12 points respectively. No one reached double digits for Singapore, with Pua Le Jie and Siow Yi Yin Ethel scoring 7 points apiece for the team.

India went atop the 6-team standing with 3 points, with hosts Thailand hot on their heels in close second with similar 3 points. Malaysia are trailing in third place with 2 points, while Uzbekistan came in fourth position with one point. Hong Kong, China and Singapore have yet won a set to come in fifth and sixth places respectively.

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