Bangkok, Thailand, March 1 - Thailand A's Kamolthip Kulna and Jarunee Sannok added another feather to their cap by winning the Asia-Pacific Women's Beach Volleyball Challenge following a superb come-from-behind victory over China's Zhang Xi and Ji Linjun in a thrilling final 18-21, 25-23, 16-14 on Sunday.
Both the Thai and Chinese teams made it to the final without dropping a set all tournament but it was the Thai duo who faltered first when China's Zhang, 17, and 14-year-old Ji stormed home in the first set. The six-foot-plus Zhang became China's Great Wall in defense as Kamolthip tried everything to get high enough to get a ball past her.
Following a hard-fought second set, which went Thailand's way, the home side finally found the form that led them to win a South East Asian Games gold medal in December and fended off the Chinese in the do-or-die third set decider. Kamolthip and Jarunee had better team-work and communication, while the Chinese teenagers started to falter and made a lot of mistakes. The game was tied at 14-14 when Jarunee blasted a winner through the Chinese defense before the crowd went wild after Jarunee turned up the heat and took the Thai team to victory 16-14.
"This is the first time we have played them and they played very well," said 27-year-old Kamolthip, who shared $3,000 in prize money with Jarunee. "If they didn't make a lot of mistakes in the third set we would not have won".
Earlier in the third place play-off, Australians Stacy Kloeden and Renae Maycock bounced back from one set down to defeat the Thai B team's Namfon Intuan and Yupa Phukrongploy 21-18, 28-26, 12-15.
Indonesian pair Siti Nurjanah and Ni Putu Yudhany Rahayu finished fifth after fighting back from one set down to claim a three set victory (19-21, 21-16,15-11) over the New Zealand pair of Lucy Todd and Susan Blundell,.
Vietnam's Mai Thi Hoa and Pham Ngoc Son beat Japan's Yuki Yanagawa and Mariko Miyata 21-17, 21-14 in Saturday's seventh place play-off.
(Story by Preechachan Wiriyanupappong, AVC South East Zonal Press Officer)