Ljubljana, Slovenia, September 15, 2017 – Thailand scored a remarkable 4-3 (9-15, 12-15, 15-12, 11-15, 15-12, 15-11, 21-19) win over the Dominican Republic here on Friday at Arena Stozice to remain hopeful for a spot in the 5-8 group, though the losers advance to the semifinals of the 2017 FIVB Women’s U23 World Championship.
Despite their loss, the ‘Queens of the Caribbean’ join Slovenia in the top four. The hosts had already qualified since the previous evening. The Dominicans had sealed their ticket after taking their third set for a 3-1 lead.
Thailand will have to wait for the Slovenia v Egypt later in the day to see if they get to play for positions 5-8 starting Saturday. Egypt now need to beat Slovenia with any score to overtake Thailand.
All matches in Ljubljana are played under a new scoring system currently being tested: a best-of-seven, 15-point set format.
Thailand’s Thanacha Sooksod registered a tournament high of 32 points, which is also a competition record regardless of scoring system used. She is only the third player to break the 30-point mark in the history of the Women’s U23 World Championship, after 31 points by Italy’s Valentina Diouf in 2013 against Egypt and 30 by Egypt’s Aya Elshamy on the opening day this year
against the Dominican Republic.
Thailand were on the brink of elimination when they trailed 11-13 in the seventh, but a sideout followed by back-to-back aces by Thanacha Sooksod brought the Asian side to match point at 14-13. The Dominicans retook the lead at 16-15 after a delay red card for an incorrect substitution, but Thailand cancelled that and went ahead on another ace by Watchareeya Nuanjam. Thailand still needed to cancell another Dominican match point at 18-19, before Wipawee Srithong got the final point in with a blockout from the left.
Gaila Gonzalez scored 27 points for the Dominican Republic.
Thailand captain, Tichaya Boonlert: “We wanted to play really good today, since this could be our last performance here in Ljubljana. We didn’t feel under pressure and we earned ourselves another two matches to play and we are really happy.”
Thailand coach, Chamnan Dokmai: “Our team fought really hard today. We knew that this could be our last match at the championship, so we had nothing to lose. It was really hard to play against the Dominican Republic, but we still made it to a win.”
Dominican Republic captain, Yokaty Perez: “We can’t be really satisfied with today’s match. We started well, but when we had to close the match, we started to do mistakes and let the opponent to take control of the game.”
Dominican Republic coach, Wagner Pacheco: “We are really, really happy with proceeding to semifinals. This really means a lot for our country, but on the other hand we are disappointed with our performance today.”
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