By The Nation
Thailand, which stunned defending and 11-time champions Brazil in Sendai, Japan last week, have never beaten Turkey before in the World Grand Prix. They lost to Turkey twice in 2012 in Ningbo, China and in Ankara, Turkey the following year.
The Thai team, currently ranked No.10 at the 12-team overall standing, led from the start in the opening set against Turkey, the team which lost 1-3 to Italy the previous day.
Hard-attacking Ajcharaporn Kongyot punctured the Turkish defence with powerful mid-court attacks to help put Thailand in front 12-9. However, after that, Turkey read the Thai game plan well and started to effectively block Ajcharaporn’s attacks. To improve their tactics, Thailand replaced Ajcharaporn with veteran Wilavan Apinyapong. The host side turned things around to take the first set 25-20.
Their confidence boosted, the Thai team set an early pace in the second set. Wilavan produced lightning-fast spikes and effective drops for the team’s initial 7-2 lead. Playing confidently with determination, Turkey narrowed the margin 11-10, thanks largely to their solid blocks led by Meryem Boz. However, the Thai team proved a cut above the visitors as the world No.14 stormed on, with Wilavan, Chutchu-on Moksri and Pleumjit Thinkaow emerging major forces to be reckoned with for the team. Thailand took the thrilling set 25-22.
The third set became a one-sided affair as Thailand started consistently. Spectacular attacks from Pleumjit, Chutchu-on and Wilavan and Hattaya Bamrungsuk’s solid blocks received great applause and ear-piercing screams from adoring fans inside the packed venue. Thailand captured the comfortable set 25-11 and match.
“I’m glad that we finally won at home. My team played well with good reception and we counter-attacked, our rivals failed in their attempts. However, I would like to thank all Thai supporters who really boosted our team’s morale and confidence. We still have a mountain to climb on our last match on Sunday as we will play Italy. They are very strong and it’s not easy to beat them. We will do our best,” Thailand coach Danai Sriwacharamaytakul commented after the match.
Meanwhile, Italy stretched their winning streak at the 2017 FIVB World Grand Prix to six in a row after a 3-0 rout of Dominican Republic in their second Pool H encounter at the Hua Mark Indoor Stadium on Saturday.
The hard-fought 25-20 25-22 25 25-15 victory was the Italy’s 22nd time in an official competition between the European giants and the Caribbean counterparts.
Caterina Bosetti and Miryam Fatime Sylla led Italy after similarly scoring a team-high 11 points, while Mambru Casilla topscored for Dominican Republic with 10 points from all deadly attacks of 32 attempts.
Thailand next take on Italy on Sunday at 6pm local time, while Turkey play Dominican Republic in the first match at 3pm.
Following the Saturday’s win, Thailand remain at 10th place of the overall standing with 8 points from 2 wins against 6 losses.