Defending champions Indonesia pulled off comeback 2-1 win against archrivals Thailand in the men’s event, as Indonesia, Singapore in Pool A and Thailand, Vietnam in Pool B are assured of booking their semifinal berths in the women’s event of the 32nd Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, which serve as the AVC Beach Volleyball Continental Cup Phase 1 Southeastern Zone, at Otres Beach in Sihanoukville, Cambodia.
Contesting the men’s Pool B, Poravid Taovato/Pithak Tipjan, who captured the gold medal at the FIVB Beach Pro Tour Subic Bay Futures in Philippines last December aside from picking up silver medal at the last month’s AVC Beach Tour 22nd Samila Open on home soil in Songkhla, gave Thailand a 1-0 advantage when the Thai duo narrowly edged past Pribadi Danangsyah/Ramadhan Gilang, bronze medallists at the last month’s AVC Beach Tour 22nd Samila Open and at the 2018 Asian Games on home soil, 2-1 (21-17, 18-21, 19-17) in exhausting 59 minutes.
However, Surin Jongklang/Dunwinit Kaewsai failed to make their mark in the Thailand’s second clash against Ashfiya Mohammad/Akbar Bintang, losing 17-21, 11-21 for 1-1 tie.
Dunwinit teamed up with Poravid in the Golden Match against Ashfiya/Bintang, but still found the Indonesian tandem too strong to go down 0-2 (14-21, 12-21) for the Thailand’s eventual 1-2 loss to Indonesia.
Following the win, Indonesia had 5 points from two straight wins, while Thailand claimed one point behind from one win against one loss to make a one-two finish in Pool B.
Cambodia lived up to home fans’ expectation to outplay Laos 2-0 in Pool A on Saturday. Thy Menghuong/Chuk Sophea handed the host side the 1-0 lead after crushing Saykhammoun Lid/Sanyalack Khampiene 2-0 (21-11, 21-12) before Sophon Pich/Narit Oem saw off Changthongdeng Chansabab/Phomachan Bounmixay 2-0 (21-12, 21-18) in 29 minutes.
The other Pool A clash saw in-form Vietnam continue their unbeaten run to beat Philippines 2-1. Nguyen Lam Toi/Quang Vu Tran struggled to beat Filipinos Abdilla Alnakran/Requinton Jaron 2-1 (21-18, 20-22, 15-12) to help Vietnam take an initial 1-0 lead.
Garcia Jude/Buytrago James gave Philippines a successful comeback with 2-1 (21-16, 20-22, 15-13) victory against Nguyen Thuyen/Van Nha Nguyen for a 1-1 tie. The Golden Match was also exciting as both teams fought it all-out. Nguyen Thuyen/Van Nha Nguyen played well against Garcia Jude/Requinton Jaron to narrowly edge past the opponents 2-1 (21-16, 16-21, 15-10) for the Vietnam’s unchallenged outing.
Vietnam completed their pool play, collecting 11 points from four straight wins to stay atop Pool A and book a semifinal berth with uncatchable performance. Philippines came in second position with 6 points from 2 wins against one loss.
On Sunday, the final day of the pool round-robin preliminaries, Indonesia will take on Singapore and Thailand play Malaysia in Pool B. Pool A clash sees Philippines take on Laos and Cambodia challenge Timor-Leste.
Meanwhile, in the women’s competition, Vietnam sent Malaysia packing 2-0, Thailand beat Philippines 2-1 and Indonesia routed Cambodia 2-0.
Vietnamese Dinh Thi My Nga/Nguyen Le Thi Tuong Vy powered past Sing Sing Yee/Beh Maegan Jia Yin 2-0 (21-12, 21-13) in the first encounter and Chua Ngoc Lan/Nguyen Thi Thanh Tram brushed off Nur Auni Maisarah Shamsulrizal/Pilihan Zuliza 2-0 (21-5, 21-11) to give Vietnam an eventual 2-0 win against Malaysia.
The later clash between Thailand and Philippines saw Pons Bemadeth/Rodriguez Floremel stun 2021 Asian champions Taravadee Naraphornrapat/Worapeerachayakorn Kongphopsarutawadee 2-0 (22-20, 21-18) to help Philippines take an early 1-0 lead.
However, the Philippines’ delight did not last long when Rondina Cherry Ann/Gonzaga Jovelyn went down to Thais Varapatsorn Radarong/Tanarattha Udomchavee, gold medalists at the 2022 Songkhla Future on Samila Beach in Thailand and at the 2013 Indonesia Palembang Open. In the Golden Match, Taravadee Naraphornrapat and Worapeerachayakorn Kongphobsaratawadee made amends for their loss to Pons Bemadeth/Rodriguez Floremel to avenge the Philippines duo 2-1 (22-24, 21-13, 15-13 in grueling 63 minutes for Thailand’s 2-1 win against Philippines.
In the day’s last match, Indonesians Aka Yokebed/Sari Nur Atika outplayed Cambodians Brittany Soun/Nancy Pin 2-0 (21-8, 21-4) and compatriots Juliana Dhita/Ratnasari Desi brushed off Marineth Huffaker/Touch Sabrina Jinda 2-0 (21-4, 21-6) for a clean sweep of Indonesia.
On Sunday, the final day of the pool play, Malaysia take on Philippines, while Thailand will go up against Vietnam.
Teams in Pool A had already completed their pool play campaign on Saturday, with Indonesia staying atop Pool A with 6 points from 2 straight wins, followed by Singapore with 3 points from one win against one loss. Winless Cambodia finished third place in Pool A with no points awarded. With only top two teams from each pool advancing, Indonesia and Singapore are sure of making the cut for the semifinals.
In women’s Pool B, Thailand and Vietnam had 5 points apiece from two wins in a row. Both teams remained unbeaten and are due to take on each other in their last pool play match on Sunday to determine the top spot of Pool B. As a result, Thailand and Vietnam are quite certain of entering the Monday’s semifinals.
Sunday will be the last day of the pool round-robin preliminaries in both men’s and women’s events. After that, only top two teams from each pool will fight it out in the semifinals, vying for their spots in the final showdown and their chances to test their mettle in either Semifinals or Final Round of the AVC Beach Volleyball Continental Cup.
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