Photos courtesy of Vietcontent, SMM Volleyball

Fired-up LPBank Ninh Binh, riding crest of a wave following their stunning upset win against reigning champions Sichuan from China, continued the onslaught in the 14th VTV9-Binh Dien Cup International Women’s Volleyball Tournament with another straight-set win against U20 Thailand at Buon Ma Thuot City Gym in Dak Lak Province, Vietnam on Monday.

Powerful Nguyen Thi Bich Tuyen, who scored a match-high 24 points to lead LPBank Ninh Binh to 3-0 win against Sichuan, proved again she is a major force of Vietnam national team to be reckoned with in the not-too-distant future. Against the Thai team, the 187cm opposite spiker delivered a team-high 19 points to help Ninh Binh win two in succession in the eight-day tournament, which also serves as final tune-up matches for the U20 Thailand and U20 Vietnam squads in their preparation for the 22nd Asian Women’s U20 Championship in Jiangmen, China from July 1 to 8.

U20 Thailand fielded a formidable lineup which pulled off hard-fought 3-2 win against BCTT TT Binh Phuoc in their opening Pool B match on Monday including Warisara Seetaloed, Papatchaya Phontham, Tanyaporn Seeso and Phattharawadee Khamuan. Ninh Binh remained strong offensively with the likes of Tuyen and two Vietnam national team players, middle blockers Le Thanh Thuy and Nguyen Thi Trinh.

The Thai team relied on aggressive attacks from Warisara and Papatchaya in the first set. Ninh Binh were relentless in their domination, with Tuyen on fire to provide most of the ammunition in the team’s attack throughout the set. Lightning-fast spikes from Le Thanh Thuy and Nguyen Thi Trinh, both of them stand 180cm tall, also proved a serious thorn in the Thai defence. The Vietnamese team wrapped up the first set 25-19.

Both sides fought it all out in the second set, causing an intense competition from the beginning. After leveling at 15-15, Ninh Binh regained composure and started to break away. The hard-hitting and heaving-scoring Tuyen capped her stellar show by hitting deadly cross-court spikes, while intensity and threat from Nguyen Thi Trinh and Le Thanh Thuy on offense also made it difficult for the Thai team to defend against from the right side. Ninh Binh closed out the set 25-18.

Conceding two sets in a row, U20 Thailand tried hard to catch up with the Vietnamese tactics. Still, the Thai comeback attempts were denied. As Ninh Binh were leading commandingly 18-14, Le Thanh Thuy sustained an injury and was replaced by Nguyen Thu Ha. Despite competing without a key player like Le Thanh Thuy, Ninh Binh went on their sparkling form which proved too much for the young Thais. The third set ended 25-18 in favor of the Ninh Binh, allowing the Vietnamese side a clean sweep in this match.

Nguyen Thi Bich Tuyen chipped in with 19 points for LPBank Ninh Binh, all from her powerful attacks, while Nguyen Thi Trinh and Le Thanh Thuy added 13 and 8 points respectively. Papatchaya was the most productive player for U20 Thailand with 14 points from 12 kills and 2 blocks.

In this match, LPBank Ninh Binh dominated in kills (52 to 34) and benefited from more opponent errors (21 to 12), while U20 Thailand did better in blocking (3 to 0) and aces (6 to 2).

The other Pool B encounter earlier saw defending champions Sichuan from China unable to break the jinx of failure in their title defence in this tournament. 

Sichuan, which succumbed to straight-set loss in their first match against LPBank Ninh Binh on Saturday, played their best in the first two sets against BCTT TT Binh Phuoc, another strong local team strengthened by many Vietnam national team players including Nguyen Nhu Quynh, Pham Thi Nguyet Anh, Hoang Thi Kieu Trinh and setter Doan Thi Lam Oanh, to win 25-23 and 25-21.

However, TT Binh Phuoc bounced back mightily, with Nguyen Nhu Quynh and Hoang Thi Kieu Trinh attacking devastatingly and Pham Thi Hien producing solid blocks. Sichuan were swift in comeback, but their aggressive offense was limited by the Vietnamese determination and consistency. TT Binh Phuoc took the third set 25-20, went on their relentless attacks to grab the hard-fought fourth set 25-23. TT Binh Phuoc, cheered on by home fans at the venue, still performed exceptionally well in tie-breaker which they narrowly beat the Chinese side 15-13 for the dramatic 3-2 victory.

Vi Thi Nhu Quynh tallied 26 points from massive 24 kills, one block and one ace for BCTT TT Binh Phuoc, while Pham Thi Hien and Hoang Thi Kieu Trinh kept good company to contribute 22 and 19 points respectively. Terrific Miao Yiwen scored a match-high 32 points, all from her deadly attacks, while Yang Jingjin and Wang Sijia added 14 points apiece on the team’s loss.

In Pool A, hosts VTV Binh Dien Long An played a close battle in their last preliminary match against HCDG Lao Cai to beat the compatriot rivals in hard-fought five-set thriller 20-25, 25-23, 12-25, 30-28, 15-12.

Chinese import Chen Peiyan was on fire as she chipped in with 37 points from 36 kills and one block for VTV Binh Dien Long An, while Tran Thi Thanh Thuy, who steered Vietnam’s Sport Center 1 to their historic Asian Women’s Club Championship title last year and powered Vietnam to unprecedented title at AVC Challenge Cup in Indonesia on the same year, added 17 points from 15 kills and 2 blocks. 

Thai import Kuttika Kaewpin led HCDG Lao Cai with 22 points from 17 kills, one block and 4 aces, with Tran Tu Linh and Tran Thi Bich Thuy assisting with respective 20 and 18 points.

After three days in the pool round-robin preliminaries, PFU BlueCats from Japan led the pack in Pool A with 6 points from two straight wins. VTV Binh Dien Long An and HCDG Lao Cai had similar 4 points, with the former winning two matches and losing one and the latter sealing one win from three matches contested. U20 Vietnam came in fourth place with only one point from two losses.

VTV Binh Dien Long An and HCDG Lao Cai had already completed their pool play in Pool A, while PFU BlueCats will take on U20 Vietnam in their last preliminary match.

With two wins in a row, LPBank Ninh Binh maintained their lead in Pool B with 6 points to become the only team which have yet lost a set to their respective rivals. BCTT TT Binh Phuoc had 3 point from one win against one loss, while U20 Thailand came in third position with 2 points from one win against one loss. Sichuan bagged only one point from two straight losses.

On Tuesday, the last day of the preliminary matches, Sichuan will take on U20 Thailand and BCTT TT Binh Phuoc will face off against LPBank Ninh Binh in Pool B, while PFU BlueCats will play U20 Vietnam in Pool A.



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