Indonesia retained their men’s title, as Thailand defended their women’s crown
Photo credit: IG: arumype_, aaaooonnn1, gilang_ramadhannnnnn
Indonesia and Thailand enjoyed mixed fortunes in the 32nd Southeast Asian (SEA) Games Beach Volleyball Tournament at Otres Beach in Sihanoukville, Cambodia, which served as the AVC Continental Cup Phase 1 Southeastern Zone, with the former repeatedly beating the latter 2-1 to defend their men’s title and the latter shutting out the former 2-1 to retain their women’s crown.
In the men’s event, reigning and consecutive two-time champions Indonesia had already beaten Thailand 2-1 in the pool round-robin preliminaries and the Tuesday’s final showdown proved a Pool B rematch between them.
Pithak Tipjan and Poravid Taovato, winners at the FIVB Beach Pro Tour Subic Bay Futures in Philippines last December and silver medallists at the last month’s AVC Beach Tour 22nd Samila Open on home soil in Songkhla, had already defeated Indonesians Pribadi Danangsyah/Ramadhan Gilang, bronze medallists at the 2018 Asian Games on their home soil, 2-1 in the pool play earlier. On Tuesday, the Thai duo still fared much better to beat the same opponents 2-0 (21-16, 21-19) to give Thailand a 1-0 advantage.
However, things turned sour for Thailand when Surin Jongklang and Dunwinit Kaewsai, who went down to Indonesians Ashfiya Mohammad and Akbar Bintang 0-2 in the pool play, still faced the similar fate as they succumbed to 0-2 (19-21, 19-21) loss to the same rivals and the Golden Match was held to decide the eventual winners in this thrilling showdown between Thailand and Indonesia.
Against Pithak and Poravid, Ashfiya and Bintang remained in superb form, playing better in all key elements including solid blocks, deceptive drops and powerful cross-court attacks to pull off hard-fought 21-18, 25-23 win in grueling 44 minutes to eventually hand Indonesia the eventual 2-1 win against Thailand.
Following the victory, Indonesia retained their men’s title, extending it to 8 in the SEA Games history since beach volleyball was included in the regional biennial multi-sport event for the first time in 2003. The inclusion of beach volleyball as the medal sporting event continued in the SEA Games in 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2011 when the Indonesians claimed gold in all editions.
Only in 2013 (Nay Pyi Taw), 2015 (Singapore) and 2017 (Kuala Lumpur), host countries did not include the sport as the medal events.
In 2019, 2021 as well as the 2023 edition in Cambodia, beach volleyball had become the team sport, with each participating country fielding Team A and Team B. Indonesia swept the men’s title in the last two editions, with Thailand and Philippines picking up silver and bronze medals for both occasions.
As Indonesia and Thailand finished top two in the 32nd edition in Cambodia, which served as the AVC Continental Cup Phase 1 Southeastern Zone, the former secured their spot in the AVC Continental Cup Finals in Australia, with the latter testing their mettle in the Semifinals.
In the third-place playoff clash earlier, Philippines picked up bronze medal after beating Vietnam 2-0.
Meanwhile, the Thai women avenged their men’s loss to beat Indonesia 2-1 in the Tuesday’s showdown to defend their crown.
The 2021 Asian champions Taravadee Naraphornrapat and Worapeerachayakorn Kongphopsarutawadeeb powered past Indonesians Eka Yokebed/Sani Nur Atika 2-0 (21-12, 21-17) to steer Thailand to a 1-0 lead.
However, it became a similar script as the men’s showdown when Varapatsorn Radarong and Tanarattha Udomchavee, gold medallists at the 2022 Songkhla Future on Samila Beach in Thailand and winners at the 2013 Indonesia Palembang Open, failed to make their mark to go down 0-2 (16-21, 15-21) to Juliana Dhita/Ratnasari Desi for a 1-1 tie.
In the Golden Match, Taravadee and Worapeerachayakorn still proved their class to outperform Dhita/Desi 2-0 (21-14, 21-15) to completely end the Indonesian challenge.
Thailand reigned supreme over the 32nd edition in Cambodia to extend their domination over the biennial sports extravaganza to 8 times including three in a row 2019, 2021 and 2023, while Indonesia bagged silver for three consecutive times.
In the third-place playoff match earlier, Vietnam stormed past Singapore 2-0 to pick up bronze medal.
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