Thailand scored their second victory of the tournament with an impressive sweep of Canada – though just not quite enough to lift them from last place in the standings of the 2021 FIVB Women’s Volleyball Nations League in Rimini, Italy on Saturday.

Thailand, consecutive two-time Asian silver medallists, performed brilliantly to demolish Canada in a lop-sided battle 25-16, 25-17, 25-17 for their second victory against the same rivals after they had beaten Canada 3-1 for the first time 18 years ago in the 2003 FIVB World Grand Prix in Italy.

Against VNL debutantes Canada, Thailand, which finished 12th place at the previous edition, fielded the similar lineup which went down to Belgium 1-3 the previous day. Spearheaded by superstar Pleumjit Thinkaow, hard-attacking Onuma Sittirak, highly-experienced setter Nootsara Tomkom and Malika Kanthong, Thailand made a confident start in the first set, with Pleumjit, Sutadta Cheuwulim and Malika puncturing the Canadian defence with their exceptional spikes to help the Asian side take the comfortable set 25-16.

Thailand still gained the upper hand in the second set, seizing the opportunities when Canada became more prone with unforced mistakes to attacking spectacularly, using their combination plays and consistency to clinch the set 25-17, again without much effort.

Canada staged a comeback attempt in the third set, hoping to make amends for the two-set loss. However, Thailand continued their remarkable run. They tightened their defence using their teamwork and offensive combinations from powerful attacks from Malika and Pleumjit to capture the set 25-17 and seal the deal in comfortable three sets.

Malika Kanthong chipped in with 16 points for Thailand, while Pleumjit Thinkaow added 13 and Onuma Sittirak 10. Emily Maglio delivered 13 points on Canada’s losing efforts.

Canada’s Brie King said at the virtual Mixed Zone: “Thailand are such a resilient team. Their serving pressure was really strong and different from all the teams we have played so far. I think they put us in a lot of trouble. They played so quick that sometimes I think we stayed a little bit behind. We just felt that they were putting a constant pressure on us.”

Thailand’s Nootsara Tomkom said: “First of all I have to say thank you to all my teammates, because we all did a great job. We knew that it would not be easy to beat Canada, because they are a good team and they played well today. We are very happy that we managed to win this game. I would also like to thank all fans for supporting us. Tomorrow is another tough match ahead of us, the last game in this tournament, but we will do our best.”

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