Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand, September 6, 2023 – Thailand underlined their supremacy over the 22nd Asian Senior Women’s Volleyball Championship for third time in history after pulling off stunning China in hard-fought, five-set thriller 25-21, 25-27, 25-19, 20-25, 16-14 before boisterous home fans of over 5,000 packing Chartchai Hall here on Wednesday night.

Thailand had already made it to the final showdown of this topflight championship for five times including the 22nd edition on home soil in Nakhon Ratchasima. They made their debut effort in the 2009 final in Hanoi, Vietnam against China and stunned them 3-1 for their unprecedented Asian title.

Thailand’s second final came in 2013 here in Nakhon Ratchasima, where they powered past Japan 3-0 to reign supreme. In 2017, they entered the final showdown in Philippines, but went down 2-3 to Japan and still suffered a setback the following edition in 2019 in Seoul, Korea where they lost 1-3 to eventual winners Japan.

It was here in Nakhon Ratchasima, 10 years after they had captured their second Asian title in 2013, that Thailand did it again, winning the Asian Senior Women’s Championship, for the third time in history.

Cheered on lustily by drum-beating and yelling home fans jampacking the competition venue on Wednesday, Thailand got off to a brilliant start, with outside hitter Ajcharaporn Kongyot tearing the Chinese defence into shreds with her spectacular attacks to put the host side in front 8-6. After that, Thailand mixed the offensive combinations from devastating attacks of Ajcharaporn, Pimpichaya Kokram and Chatchu-On to extend the lead to 21-17. 

However, China held their nerves and hit back mightily. Opposite hitter Zhou Yetong showed her brilliance, attacking relentlessly from all angles to help China narrow the margin 20-22. Still, Thailand had enough more in their tank. Chatchu-On landed a powerful cross-court attack and sub-in Sasipapron produced an ace serve to hand the team the set point at 24-21. Unfortunately, Sasipapron  failed in her second attempt as her serve went to the net. However, it was not a problem for the host side as cannon Chatchu-On remained there to pound on the taller blockers with her aggressive spike. Thailand took the thrilling set 25-21, much to the great delight of home supporters.

Holding 1-0 advantage, Thailand played with more confidence and consistency in the second set to set an early pace 18-12. With Pimpichaya and Chatchu-On powerfully hitting cross-court, Thailand broke away again to stretch it to 24-18, needing only one more point to wrap up the set. However, China turned things around and bounced back exceptionally well to incredibly win six points in a row to catch up with the host side 24-24 and went on that superb form to silence the noisy home crowd with the terrific comeback 27-25 win.

Their confidence boosted after one-set win, China intensified their defence in the third set, using their height advantage to block solidly and attack powerfully at the net to jump to a 10-6 lead. Thailand shuffled their lineup a lot to seek the right formula. Thanacha Sooksod was sent in to replace Pimpichaya and she, as a game-changer, came to help. She carried out aces and sharp spikes to bring Thailand back on track, leveling it at 10-10 and surged away 20-18 and held firm to win the set 25-19.

Conceding 1-2, China came all out in the fourth set and their more determination paid off well when they led initially 15-11 and extended it to 18-14, making the most of error-filled game from Thailand. The host team fought back to reduce the gap 20-23, but their continued challenge was denied. Wu Mingjie scored two points in a row from her great attacks to help China win the set 25-20.

The decider saw both sides fight neck and neck to win the set. China led all the way, but gusty display of Thailand made the difference. Thailand came back to catch the mighty China 14-14 and went on to win the heart-pounding set 16-14, match and the championship. 

Outside hitter Chatchu-On Moksri scored a match-high 23 points from 21 attacks, one block and one ace for Thailand, while outside hitter Ajcharaporn Kongyot and middle blocker Thatdao Nuekjang added another 22 and 16 points respectively. Outside hitter Wu Mingjie contributed 22 points on the China’s stunning loss.


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