THAILAND CRUISE TO 3-0 VICTORY OVER AUSTRALIA AND AVC CUP SEMI-FINALS
Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand, September 19, 2018 – Thailand faced no issues in shutting out Australia in straight sets 25-20 25-21 25-13 to secure a semi-final berth at the 6th AVC Cup for Women at the Chartchai Hall here on Wednesday.
Onuma Sittirak chipped in with 7 attacks, 3 blocks and one ace for Thailand, while Pleumjit Thinkaow added 9 points including 5 attacks and 3 effective blocks. Rachel Rourke led Australia with 12 points.
Fresh from beating Korea in comfortable straight sets, Thailand made a strong start with an impressive lineup spearheaded by hard-attacking Onuma Sittirak, Malika Kanthong and star spiker Pleumjit Thinkaow, while Australia were represented by tall players led by the 192cm Rachel Rourke.
In the first set, Onuma and teenaged Thanacha Sooksod were dangerous from spike range, but the Aussies used their height advantage to block effectively and at the same time had Rourke to thank as she uncorked a barrage of aggressive blows to help her team match the Thais tactically and technically. Both sides traded points until the host side advanced with a 3-point clear at 23-19 and shortly allowed the visitors one more point to clinch the first set 25-20.
Going down one set, Australia began to take control when Rourke and Beth Carey powered home a series of attacks for the initial 8-4 lead. Thailand replaced Malika and setter Pornpun Gurdpard with Pimpichaya Kokram and highly-skilled setter Nootsara Tomkom. Things got better for the host side as they met Australia at 10-10 and again 12-12. From then on, both sides played with all they had. Despite putting up a brave fight, Aussies found the Thais a tough nut to crack. Leading 20-18, Thailand broke away to snatch the set 25-21.
Thailand shuffled several players in the third set, with Ajcharaporn Kongyot, Thatdao Nuekjang and Wilavan Apinyapong called in to strengthen the team. The host side captured the lead initially with a 4-point advantage at 9-5, thanks to lightning-fast spikes from Pleumjit. As Australia became more prone with unforced mistakes, Thailand seized the golden opportunity to attack devastatingly and block effectively to widen it to 17-7 and never looked back after that to capture the set 25-13 and match.
“We made a poor start in this match because, I think, we feel exhausted from the morning training. However, after that, we adjusted our system. We have to admit one thing that Australia are one of the strong teams with good playing system. In our semi-finals against China, I think they are very strong. To meet them is beneficial for us as we can test our team before heading to the World Championship in Japan. Though smaller in size, we will play our form and we will do our best,” Thailand head coach Danai Sriwacharamaytakul commented.
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