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Slick Thais too strong for Kazakhstan

Thailand captain Wilavan Apinyapong displayed strong defensive work and good leadership in the win over Kazakhstan

Matsumoto, Japan, October 30, 2010 – A slick performance by Thailand brought them their first win of the FIVB Women's World Championship on Saturday, 3-1 (25-16, 25-18, 20-25, 25-16) against Kazakhstan at Matsumoto City Gymnasium.

Onuma Sittirak was the most productive of four Thailand  players in double figures as she managed 18 points, followed by Wilavan Apinyapong and Malika Kanthong on 14 and Pleumjit Thinkaow on 13.

For Kazakhstan, Inna Matveyeva and Olga Drobyshevskaya finished with 18 points apiece including three and four blocks respectively. The eastern Europeans had a 14-10 advantage in blocks but Thailand scored with 11 aces from the service line against only one from their opponents.

FIVB Women's World Championship Japan 2010 official page

After Kazakhstan moved into an early lead through a couple of spikes by Drobyshevskaya, Thailand's strategy of feeding power hitter Onuma began to pay dividends. The Kazakhs did not help their cause with a couple of receiving errors and Thai captain Wilavan delivered a pair of powerful hits as the Asians took eight out of eleven points to build a 16-10 lead by the Second Technical Timeout (STT).

Olessya Arslanova did her best to keep Kazakhstan in the set with a good block on Onuma and two spikes, but the Thais were not just spiking well but also defending with admirable energy. Pleumjit brought setpoint with a clever angled spike and Olga Nassedkina then planted her serve into the net to put the Asians 1-0 up.

Thailand remained strong early in the second set. Nootsara Tomkom showed her class as a setter, particularly with one brilliant improvised reverse set for Pleumjit. But after taking a 6-3 lead, Thailand's big hitters ran into a rejuvenated Kazakh block and the scores were quickly reversed, Nassedkina landing successive spikes as her team moved into a three-point lead.

Unfortunately for Nelli Chsherbakova, Kazakh errors allowed Thailand to regain the advantage. Blocks by Pleumjit and Onuma gave Thailand some breathing space and two good hits and a block by Amporn Hyapha moved them into a six-point lead at 22-16. A receiving error by Sana Jarlagassova from a Nootsara serve brought up setpoint and Onuma’s spike put Thailand 2-0 up.

The Thais went off the boil at the start of the third set and were 8-4 down at the First Technical Timeout. Coach Kiattipong Radchatagriengkai called a timeout with his team 11-5 behind to try and get them back on track but despite a massive thump from Onuma, Kazakhstan moved eight points ahead. Cue another timeout. Malika Kanthong and Onuma came up with two great blocks afterwards, but Kazakhstan were still ahead at the Second Technical Timeout (STT).

Although Malika produced two more big shots, as well as a fine block, it was in a losing cause. With Drobyshevskaya and Matveyeva supplying the offensive firepower, Kazakhstan had the set in their sights. A great drive down the line by Matveyeva brought setpoint and another spike by the same player made the score 2-1.

Both sides looked tired at the start of the fourth set as both committed a series of errors. The Thais were 8-6 up at the FTT and further Kazakh errors forced coach Chsherbakova to call a timeout with her side trailing 11-7. It did not appear to help Drobyshevskaya much, though, as she committed three more errors in succession. Matveyeva revived Kazakhstan's hopes with three straight spike points, but the Thais were still four ahead at the STT. Wilavan delivered three bombs and after a long shot by Drobyshevskaya brought up matchpoint, Onuma finished off the contest with a resounding clout.

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