Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand, September 3, 2023 – Thailand proved again they remained a cut above Korea to demolish the spirited opponents in hard-fought three-setter in their Top 8 clash in Pool E at the 22nd Asian Senior Women’s Volleyball Championship at the packed Chartchai Hall here on Sunday.
For Thailand, the exceptional 25-20, 25-22, 25-23 win was a repeated feat as they had already beaten Korea in straight sets during their Pool 1, Week 1 match of the 2023 Volleyball Nations League on June 4 in Antalya, Turkey. Furthermore, it was a sweet revenge for the Thai team for the disappointing 1-3 loss to the Koreans in the second round Pool E of the 20th Asian Championship in 2019 in Korea.
Thailand, current world No.15 and silver medallists at the previous two editions in 2019 and 2017 (2021 edition was cancelled due to COVID-19 pandemic), opened an early lead 5-2 in the first set and were able to extend it to 15-12 before Korea started gradually hustling back to catch up at 15-15. Powerful hitter Chatchu-On Moksri and Sasipapron Janthawisut joined forces in penetrating the Korean defence with their spectacular attacks and Sasipapron carried out terrific jump serves to help the host side lead with a six-point clear at 24-18. Jung Hoyoung slammed a fast spike and Kim Dain successfully blocked Wimonrat Thanapan to save two set points for Korea before Thanacha Sooksod hit a first-tempo attack to end the visitors’ challenge in the thrilling set 25-20.
The second set was more competitive as Korea regrouped and roared back with attacks and solid blocking to take an initial 3-1 lead and widened it to 12-10, thanks to Kang Sohwi’s aggression at the net. However, cheered on by thousands of home fans inside the competition venue, Thailand regained their composure and hit back to level it at 15-15, stretched it to 19-15 and managed to hold on to their advantage to 24-21. Korea got one point after a Thanacha’s serve went wide before sub-in Jarasporn Bundasak beautifully tipped over the net for the Thailand’s set win 25-22.
Going down two straight sets, Korea played with their backs against the wall in the third set. Both sides came all out and fought neck and neck. Leads changed hands momentarily before Thailand moved ahead 14-12, courtesy of Wipawee Srithong’s attack and well-placed serve. A fast-paced multi-skilled game with good teamwork proved crucial in helping Korea get back in front 17-15. However, Thailand had enough left in their tank as Chatchu-Ok and Wipawee were on fire in attack to level it at 17-17 and again at 21-21. During the hotly-contested battle, Thanacha attacked powerfully to assist Thailand to hold off the Koreans 23-22 and Wipawee handed the team the set point at 24-22. Skipper Park Jeongah saved the day for Korea as she spiked to the Thailand’s empty mid-court space before Wipawee stole the show to overcome the blockers with her great attack for the team’s 25-23 win.
Thanacha Sooksod delivered 15 points from 13 attacks and 2 blocks for Thailand, while Chatchu-On Moksri and Wipawee Srithong kept good company to add another 14 and 11 points respectively. Kang Sohwi scored 17 points on the Korea’s loss.
“It’s good to win this crucial match. We played according to the strategy planned initially by staff coach. However, I think we still have some weak points and mistakes to improve for our next games in this championship. We next take on Vietnam, the team which came much strong this time. We will try our best to beat them,” Thanacha said after the match.
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