PORNPUN ORCHESTRATES FIRST VICTORY FOR THAILAND
Ekaterinburg, Russia, May 17, 2018 – In a match to decide who would finish the tournament in 3rd place, there was only really one likely outcome. Despite Argentina taking more sets off the top two teams in the pool over the last couple of days, it was Thailand who were in control for the majority of the match. Their setter Pornpun Guedpard distributed the ball with ease, linking particularly well with joint top scorers Pimpichaya Kokram and Ajcharaporn Kongyot, ensuring a 3-0 win (25-17, 25-17, 25-16).
There was a cracking start to the final day of action at the Palace of Sports in Ekaterinburg with Thailand matching the momentum of the Iset river that runs next to the competition hall. They end this part of the competition with one win from their three matches, having previously fallen to the Netherlands and Russia. Thai Coach Danai Sriwacharamaytakul appeared confident throughout and significantly contributed to his team’s victory with his interventions – particularity with their use of the challenge system.
Argentina are yet to beat Thailand in world level competition, in fact they are yet to win a set, and in truth they never looked likely this time around either. Getting off to strong starts in their previous two matches by taking the first set, Argentina started with confidence, but other than short bursts they were never really at the same level as Thailand. Meaning they start the 2018 Volleyball Nations League with three straight losses, just as they did at the 2016 Olympic Games and the 2017 World Grand Prix, despite the best efforts of their top attacker Antonela Fortuna and their top scorer Julieta Constanza Lazcano.
A close start saw the attending crowd on their feet early on when an exciting exchange saw more than half the players on the court make contact with the floor within the same rally. The first set was also dominated by successful challenges to both sides, but with Thailand edging it in all areas their 16-10 lead at the second technical time-out was fully justified. From here, Thailand pinned Elina Rodriguez both at the net and with the serve, and with Argentina missing the few opportunities that they were presented with, Pimpichaya Kokram guided her team to the first set 25-17.
Argentina came out fighting and established a slight lead as the teams approached double figures, but as the ball dropped in after being left by Clarisa Sagardia you could sense that the tide started to shift. With the scores level at 14-14, Thailand’s setter Pornpun Guedpard produced a moment of magic when she played a blind overhead one handed shot to turn a moment of pressure into a point for her side. 19-15 saw another mega rally with a dominant Thailand attacking from all positions, with Argentina finding a way to get the ball back until an over pass left them with no options and they fell to the same score as the first set.
As with the two previous sets, it was Thailand’s ability to grasp the initiative with the serve that made the difference, enjoying their time on the service line throughout the whole match and outscoring their opponent 7-0 in the ace count. Argentina introduced Velez Sarsfield spiker Sol Piccolo for the third set, and despite playing a third of the time came close to finishing top scorer after making a real difference for her team. In the end it was all smiles for Thailand as they strode to a straight sets win, 25-16 in the final set.
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