THAILAND OPEN AVC CUP CAMPAIGN ON POSITIVE NOTE WITH 3-1 WIN AGAINST FORMIDABLE JAPAN
Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand, September 17, 2018 – Pimpichaya Kokram helped hosts Thailand survive Japan’s scare to overpower the formidable visitors in pulsating four-setter 28-26 21-25 27-25 25-17 to record their first win at the 8th AVC Cup for Women at the Chartchai Hall here on Monday.
Pimpichaya Kokram contributed 15 points for Thailand including 12 kills from 34 attempts and 2 blocks, while Ajcharaporn Kongyot and Thatdao Nuekjang added 12 and 10 points respectively. Miwako Osanai led Japan with 14 points.
Thailand, which picked maiden silver medal at the recent 18th Asian Games in Indonesia, fielded a strong lineup led by ace spiker Ajcharaporn Kongyot and Pimpichaya Kokrum, while Japan sent in a young, potential squad powered by Miwako Osanai and Rei Kudo, both of them joined the Japan team which captured the last year’s Asian Women’s U23 Championship in Thailand.
With noisy drum-beating fans cheering them all the way, the host side made use of their greater experience to attack devastatingly and block effectively to take an early 10-8 lead. Ajcharaporn and Pimpichaya penetrated the Japanese defence with their exceptional spikes to stretch the lead to 16-15. Shiori Aratani used her incredible reach and leap to punish the Thais with some powerful spikes and put Japan in front with a 3-point clear at 22-19. Thailand head coach Danai Sriwacharamaytakul replaced Onuma Sittirak with Wilavan Apinyapong and Pornpun Guedpard with experienced setter Nootsara Tomkom. From then on, the rhythm was with the host team. Both sides traded points, but Thailand played more consistently to win the hard-fought first set 28-26.
Japan clawed their way back into the match in the second set as Rei Kudo and Shiori Aratani silenced the cheering Thai fans with their fine attacks to capture the initial 12-6 lead and shortly widened it to 22-15. Wilavan and Nootsara were called in to strengthen the Thai team in this set. However, their efforts were in vain. The young Japanese side went on their incredible form to win the set 25-21.
In the third set, both sides were locked in a tense battle which saw the leads change hands for several times. Japan took an advantage of Thailand’s serving mistakes to surge ahead the host side with a one-point clear at 20-19, but the host girls fought back hard to catch the visitors at 22-22. Thailand held their nerves, with Thatdao Nuekjang producing some lightning-fast spikes to help the team win the hotly-contested set 27-25.
Holding a 2-1 advantage, Thailand played more comfortably and confidently in the fourth set, which they raced to a 6-1 lead. With star spiker Pleumjit Thinkaow coming from behind to attack effectively at the net, Thailand advanced with a 5-point advantage at 16-11. The host girls never looked back after that to capture the set 25-17 and match.
“Despite the win, I’m not satisfied with my team’s performance. My players made too many mistakes and their attacks were not effective. Japan played us much better that their previous match against Korea. Korea had already beaten Japan 3-1 and so, we can’t underestimate the Koreans in our next match,” Thailand head coach Danai Sriwacharamaytakul commented after the match.
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