THAILAND STUN DEFENDING CHAMPS AND WORLD U20 GOLD MEDALLISTS CHINA IN TIE-BREAKER
Bac Ninh, Vietnam, June 12, 2018 – Determined Thailand handed defending 12-time champions China a shock defeat in an epic five-set comeback on their last pool round-robin preliminary match at the 19th Asian Women’s U19 Volleyball Championship at the Bac Ninh Gymnasium on Tuesday.
The fantastic 3-2 (13-25 25-20 25-27 25-22 15-10) victory was one of the Thailand’s best results in the championship since they had won silver medal in 2002 in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Powerhouses China did not take part in the inaugural event in 1980 in Seoul, Korea, but from the second edition onwards, China have never finished worse than the third place. China have claimed 12 Asian titles including the latest four successive times. Last year, the Chinese went on to beat Russia in the showdown to capture the crown in the U20 World Championship in Mexico.
In this match, Thanacha Sooksod scored a match-high 24 points including 19 kills from 49 attempts, while Wiranyupa Inchan and Tichakorn Boonlert added 13 and 11 points respectively. Sun Ruoqing led China with massive 25 points including 19 kills from 44 attempts and 3 solid blocks. Xu Luyao contributed 13 points.
China made an aggressive start in the first set, with power hitter Xu Luyao, 192cm, and terrific Che Wenhan, 193cm, utilising the height advantage to penetrate the Thai defence with their exceptional attacks to race to a 18-12 lead. Thailand regrouped for better counter-attacking opportunities, but the mighty Chinese continued their onslaughts to shatter the Thais’ high hopes and took the comfortable set 25-13.
Conceding disappointing one set, Thailand improved their tactics in the second set, with Thanacha Sooksod and Saowapha Soosuk overpowering the taller attackers with their scintillating blocks and Thanacha and Wiranyupa Inchan letting loose their deadly spikes to help the team snatch the thrilling set 25-20.
The third set turned out to be a heart-pounding battle, with both sides giving their utmost efforts to win the set. Smashing machines Xu Luyao and Sun Ruoqing led the China’s assault for a successful comeback. Terrific jump serves and powerful attacks from Xu mixed by thundering spikes from Sun Ruoqing and cross-court attacks from Che Wenhan moved China ahead 22-17. However, the leads did not last long as Thailand started to produce the goods on solid blocks and well-placed drops to catch the Chinese at 23-23. From then on, both sides took turns leading. At 25-25, Sun carried out a sharp spike to help China capture the vital pole position before a drop shot form China went without returning. China bagged the hard-fought third set 27-25.
The fourth set was also thrilling from the start to finish. Thailand led all the way until the Chinese caught them at 21-21, but the Thais played consistently and incredibly to win the thrilling set 25-22.
In the tie-breaker, the well-established Thailand came all-out to race to a 10-4 lead. China struck back to keep their hopes alive, but the Thai girls played exceptionally well to win the decider 15-10 and the match.
“I’m happy with the results, but not satisfied with my players’ performance in the first three sets. They did not follow the game plan. However, I know that it was their determination and willing to win this match. In the fourth set, we had great serves. Our players are tall and successfully blocked the Chinese attackers. On Wednesday, we will undergo physiotherapy and check the players’ condition to make sure everyone is in the pink physically. In our next match, it’s possible that we will play Sri Lanka. We will rest our best players and instead field substitutions,” Thailand head coach Chamnan Dokmai commented.
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