THAILAND EDGE PAST KAZAKHSTAN TO SET UP FINAL CLASH WITH KOREA AT AVC WOMEN’S TOKYO VOLLEYBALL QUALIFICATION
Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand, January 11, 2020 – Inspired by their 5,500-strong partisan home crowd, Thailand edged past taller-built Kazakhstan in a thrilling 3-1 (25-21, 25-20, 24-26, 25-21) at the semifinals of the 2020 AVC Women’s Tokyo Volleyball Qualification tournament at Chatchai Hall on Saturday evening.
Kokram Pimpichaya tallied a match high of 29 points for Thailand, followed by Sittirak Onuma with 17. Anarkulova Sana was Kazakhstan’s top scorer on 14 points.
Thailand will set up the final clash on Sunday evening with Korea, who reversed Chinese Taipei 3-1 (18-25, 25-9, 25-15, 25-14) in the earlier semifinal match. Only the winner will get the ticket to Tokyo Olympic Games. Kazakhstan will have another match with Chinese Taipei on Sunday afternoon for the third place.
Veteran player Thinkaow Pleumjit was put in the starting lineups for this crucial match. She played a key role for Thailand in the first set, as she covered her teammates to attack and blocked effectively. Armed with the high-altitude bombing by Safronova Alessya and Anarkulova Sana, Kazakhstan matched up with the hosts until 15-16. Thinkaow Pleumjit’s ace service and Sittirak Onuma’s spike steered Thailand to a 19-15 lead. Holding the advantage, Thailand captured the first set in 25-21 following another spike by Thinkaow Pleumjit.
Conceding the first set, Kazakhs refreshed themselves to start the second with a 8-5 lead at the first technical timeout. It took quite a long time for Thailand to chase up before Kokram Pimpichaya stood out with consecutive three spikes to break the tie to a 21-18 lead at the final crucial moment. Thailand reached the set point thanks to an opponent’s attacking error and then followed to wrap up the set in 25-20 with an ace by Moksri Chatchu-On.
In the beginning of the third set, Moksri Chatchu-On was taken good care of by Kazakhstan with clean blocks while left-handed Syroeshkina Zhanna emitted destructive service including aces to steer Kazakhstan from 4-4 tie to a 9-4 lead. Again Thailand switched on their chasing mode with their answering aces and swift attacks. But Kazakhs learned lessons from the second set as they widened the gap again from 14-14 tie to 22-17 lead. Following a killing spike by Kokram Pimpichaya, Thailand took back the service right and they substituted the veteran player Apinyapong Wilavan onto the court to serve. The miracle was almost but yet produced. With 3 destructive services in a row, Thailand shortened the gap to 21-22 but they failed to move one step closer before Kazakhstan closed up the set in 26-24 with an ace.
The fourth set turned out to be a see-saw battle before Kokram Pimpichaya and Kanthong Malika smashed in sequence to help Thailand come to a 17-14 lead. Kazakhstan called a timeout at 15-19 behind and they pounced back with 3 points in a row thanks to their reinforced defense. But their momentum was stopped by Kanthong Malika, who finished a long rally with a spike for
Thailand. Her teammates Kokram Pimpichaya and Thinkaow Pleumjit followed with attacks to lead the hosts to the match point 24-19. It was Kokram Pimpichaya again, who ended the set in 25-21 and the tough match in 3-1.
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