THAILAND SECURE WORLD U18 BERTH AFTER INCREDIBLE COMEBACK WIN OVER CHINESE TAIPEI
Nakhon Pathom, Thailand, May 24,2018 – Thailand produced a fantastic comeback victory over arch rivals Chinese Taipei in the knockout quarter-finals of the 12th Asian Women’s U17 Volleyball Championship at the Nakhon Pathom Municipality Gymnasium on Thursday.
The epic 3-2 (15-25 25-23 20-25 25-23 15-10) comeback not only handed Thailand a repeated victory over Chinese Taipei, the team they had beaten 3-2 in the pool plays earlier, but also a semi-final berth to play reigning champions Japan. The win has also assured Thailand a place in the next year’s FIVB Women’s U18 World Championship in Mexico.
Saowapa Soosuk scored a match-high 23 points including 20 attack hits from 42 attempts for Thailand, while Wiranyupa Inchan and Aungkhana Pasang consisted 14 and 13 points respectively. Pan Hsuan-Jung topscored Chinese Taipei with 16 points, while Chen Ying-Chi and Peng Yu-Rou added 15 points apiece.
Against the aggressive Chinese Taipei, Thailand fielded a strong lineup including Saowapa Soosuk and Chanoknan Sabaengban. The host side overcame their jitter early in the first set which they trailed 0-4 to catch the fully-fledged Chinese Taipei at 12-all. However, the formidable visitors widened the margin to 17-14, making the most of the Thais’ unforced mistakes. From then, Chinese Taipei mixed the splendid offensive combinations from Peng Yu-Rou’s exceptional attacks and scintillating blocks by Yeh Hsuan-Tsen and Pan Hsuan-Jung with great serves from Peng Yu-Rou to take the first set 25-15.
Thailand made amends in the second set. After a 5-5 draw, the host girls raced to a commanding 19-11 lead, courtesy of Pimtawan Thongyos’ sharp spikes. Chinese Taipei silenced the noisy drum-beating Thai fans with their amazing fightback with mighty attacks from left-hander Pan Hsuan-Jung and Peng Yu-Rou to meet Thailand at 22-22. However, the host side still played cool under much pressure, allowing the opponents one more point to clinch the thrilling set 25-23.
Chinese Taipei still performed superbly in the third set to lead 17-11 initially before the host girls hit back with fast spikes from Chanoknan to reduce the gap 18-23. However, after a few moments of rallies, Chinese Taipei went on to win the set 25-20.
Confidence boosted after holding 2-1 advantage, Chinese Taipei continued their remarkable run in the fourth set, which they raced to a 6-1 lead before widening it to 14-12. Thailand gradually pulled their game together and improved their tactics to catch up with the rivals at 19-19. From then onward, both sides set up a tense battle, with leads changing hands several times. Thailand, supported by a large number of home fans, proved steadier to grab the thrilling set 25-23.
Thailand began encouragingly to lead 4-1 in the tie-breaker, but Chinese Taipei did not surrender as they counter-attacked well to reduce the gap 7-8. The host team played more confidently and consistently to win the deciding set 15-10, match and a semi-final berth.
“I’m very happy that my girls beat Chinese Taipei again. This time, it made my team eligible for the next year’s World U18 Championship. All credits of the success went to my girls, who have already learned how to play well under pressure. The loss in early sets did not let them down, but it turned to an amazing determination which led them to success eventually. To come this far in the Championship is a success, but I keep my promise that my team must stand a chance of standiing on the top-three podium,” the upbeat Chamnan Dokmai commented after the match.
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