By The Nation
Japan have been invincible against Thailand in recent times. Yesterday’s victory made it four in row in 30 days, including two wins at the recent World Grand Prix.
Thailand, who won the Asian title in 2009 in Hanoi, Vietnam, and in 2013 in Nakhon Ratchasima, were looking for their third Asian crown in eight years after stunning Incheon Asian Games winners South Korea in the semifinals.
Thailand fielded the same lineup that beat the South Koreans. Spearheaded by veteran Pleumjit Thinkaow and setter Nootsara Tomkom, they made a dismal start to trail Japan 26 in the first set, but gradually clawed their way back. With Ajcharaporn Kongyot, Pimpichaya Kokram and Chatchuon Moksri methodically tearing the Japan defence apart, the Kingdom caught up with their rivals at 15 and won the heart-pounding set 2826.
Ajcharaporn and Chatchuon uncorked a series of devastating attacks in the second set and Japan’s nerves began to fray. After taking a commanding 157 lead, Thailand continued their remarkable run to win the set 2520 for a 20 lead.
The third and fourth sets turned out to be a lopsided affair for Thailand.
In the fifth set tiebreaker, Japan played with determination to win 157 and the championship. Japan had won the Asian title in 1975 in Melbourne, Australia, 1983 in Fukioka, Japan, and 2007 in Nakhon Ratchasima.