Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand, September 9, 2022 – Hefty Tran Thi Thanh Thuy scored a match-high 20 points to steer classy Vietnam to 3-0 rout of Indonesia, as in-form Thailand cruised to a sensational 3-0 triumph against Philippines on the opening day of the 2nd ASEAN Grand Prix Women’s Volleyball Invitation at Chartchai Hall here on Friday.

The Vietnam’s exceptional win was their first ever in the ASEAN Grand Prix. At the inaugural edition three years ago, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand tested their mettle in the Grand Prix, which was split into the first leg at Terminal 21 Hall in Nakhon Ratchasima and the second leg in Santa Rosa, Philippines. Vietnam lost all six matches contested in both legs.

“This is the second time we took part in the ASEAN Grand Prix in Thailand. This time, we have enough good players in our team and we also had a chance to train intensively in Bangkok for two weeks ahead of the tournament and as a result, we had a good preparation for this Grand Prix,” Vietnam head coach Nguyen Tuan Kiet said in interview with AVC.

“Vietnam played Indonesia before at the SEA Games early this year in Quang Ninh, but at that time, I was not assigned to coach the team. However, I think two middle blockers in my team played better than what they did in the SEA Games.

“In general, we played well, but in the first set, we made a slow start and that was why Indonesia led us initially. We just came back to beat them. We next take on Philippines. Actually, we played them before at the AVC Cup for Women and as far as I’m concerned, Philippines in this Grand Prix are much stronger than the Philippine team in the SEA Games. Therefore, we cannot underestimate them,” Nguyen Tuan Kiet, who coached Vietnam to the fourth-place finish, their best performance at the AVC Cup for Women, for the first time in 10 years.

Against Indonesia in their opening clash of the single round-robin ASEAN Grand Prix, Vietnam fielded a strong lineup spearheaded by the 193cm-tall Tran Thi Thanh Thuy, Pham Thi Nguyet Anh and Hoang Thi Kieu Trinh.

Indonesia, which succumbed to 1-3 defeat to Vietnam in this year’s SEA Games, made a strong start to play neck and neck against the Vietnamese. With talented Megawati Hangesri Pertiwi and Mediol Stiovanny Yoku unleashing on several powerful blows, Indonesia led all the way in the first set until 19-19. Vietnam then found a way through the impregnable wall, with Tran Thi Thanh Thuy and Doan Thi Lam Oamh producing sensational blocking to surge ahead 24-22.

Ratri Wulandari carried out a great serve which went without returning to help Indonesia save one set point before Tran Thi Thanh Thuy nailed a crucial spike for the Vietnam’s hard-fought 25-23 win.

The second set remained an intense battle with both sides trading attacks. Tran Thi Thanh Thuy helped Vietnam surge into an early 10-9 lead and after that the squad scored five points in a row to widen the gap to 15-9. With a blistering run of points under the impeccable serving of Doan Thi Lam Oamh and solid blocks from Tran Thi Thanh Thuy and Pham Thi Nguyet Anh, Vietnam stormed on to win the second set 25-19.

The third set turned out to be one-way traffic. Vietnam led initially 9-5, stretched it to 15-6 and never looked back after that to win the easy set 25-9 and match.

Tran Thi Thanh Thuy weighed in with 20 points from 15 attacks, 4 blocks and one ace for Vietnam, while Pham Thi Nguyet Anh and Hoang Thi Kieu Trinh kept her good company to contribute with 12 and 10 points respectively.

Ratri Wulandari led Indonesia with 12 points, with Megawati Hangesri Pertiwi adding 10 points.

In the second match, Thailand, current world No.14 which swept both gold medals on offer at the previous two-leg ASEAN Grand Prix in 2019, played the Philippines, the team they had beaten 3-1 in the quarterfinals of the recent AVC Cup for Women.

Thailand coach Danai Sriwacharamaytakul shuffled his line-up a lot in this encounter against Philippines to give his players an equal chance of proving their worth. The loud atmosphere at the 5,000-seater Chartchai Hall saw the home team, led by Pimpichaya Kokram and Wipawee Srithong, fight for each and every ball and their determination paid off impressively to win the first set 25-17.

The Philippines’ attempts at a comeback in the second set were denied. They took a commanding 20-16 lead before Coach Danai replaced Wipawee with powerful hitter Ajcharaporn Kongyot. As the Philippines were errors-strewn, Thailand gradually pulled their game together to chip in with back-to-back points.

With just two points behind at 19-21, Thailand narrowed the margin 21-22, thanks to Ajcharaporn’s brilliant all-round performance. Pimpichaya’s powerful attack helped Thailand level at 22-22. Two spikes from Philippines’ Galanza Jessica Margarett and Carlos Diana Mae went wide and Ajcharaporn effectively blocked Panaga Jeanette for the Thailand’s thrilling 25-22 win in the second set.

The third set was a totally one-sided battle. As Philippines had a poor reception, Thailand played incredibly well in defence to catch up, take control and break away with a 10-point clear at 22-12. Philippines tried hard to come back, but struggled to get past the rivals’ blocks. To make short work of the visitors, Thailand went on their attacks to win the easy set 25-12 and match.

Pimpichaya Kokram chipped in with 17 points from 16 attacks and one block for Thailand, while Wipawee Srithong added 10 points. Carlos Diana Mae led Philippines with 11 points including 10 attacks.

Thailand will next take on Indonesia on Saturday, while Philippines will face off with Vietnam.

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