Yoana Palacios was a major contributor to the victory of Cuba with 19 points against Thailand in Matsumoto
Matsumoto, Japan, November 2, 2010 – Cuba had to fight hard to overcome a resilient Thailand in Pool C of the 2010 FIVB Women's Volleyball World Championship before eventually emerging 3-0 winners (25-19, 29-27, 27-25) at the Matsumoto City Gymnasium.
The hard-earned victory – which owed much to the Cubans' strength at the net where they outblocked their Asian opponents by 13-3 – was the second success of Cuba's first-round campaign and lifted them level on points with third-placed Thailand in the group.
FIVB Women's World Championship Japan 2010 official page
The Cuban tandem of Yoana Palacios and Kenia Carcaces proved too much for the Thais on the night as they scored 19 and 17 points respectively with each recording two blocks and two aces. Rachel Sanchez contributed 11 tallies. Meanwhile, Pleumjit Thinkaow top-scored for Thailand with 12 points and Wilavan Apinyapong and Kamonporn Sukmak notched 11 and 10 respectively.
Kiattipong Radchatagriengkai's team had started strongly with Pleumjit blocking Palacios and then making a strong spike as Thailand established a three-point lead, backed by typically tough defending. But Cuba began blocking well and drew level at 7-7. Juan Carlos Gala's side suffered a setback when Rachel Sanchez went off injured at 9-9, yet Palacios found her spiking and serving range and the Thais were having trouble blocking.
By contrast Thailand were not serving well and a netted shot by ace Onuma Sittirak allowed the Cubans to gain a three-point advantage at the Second Technical Timeout (STT). It didn't get any better for the Thais either: a receiving error, a double touch and a netted spike followed, before a vicious service ace by Palacios brought up set point. Thailand's substitute setter Kamonporn Sukmak was penalised for a double touch and Cuba were a set ahead.
The Thais regrouped and fired by Onuma's devastating blast and an unreturnable serve, they went three points up in the second set. Yet with Sanchez back, the Cubans recovered their stride. Ana Lidia Cleger produced a spike and a block on Thai captain Wilavan, and a Carcaces bomb brought the scores level at 12. Yusidey Silie then sent down a good spike and made a fine block on Onuma, as Cuba took a one-point cushion into the STT. Even so, there was never more than a point in it from 11-10 until the final point of the set.
Carcaces started landing big blows coming down the stretch, although Amporn Hyapha responded well for Thailand. Two huge hits by Carcaces then saved set points, before the same player earned another Cuban set point at 28-27. Captain Silie seized the opportunity, blocking Wilavan to put her side 2-0 in front.
For the third set running, the Thais began impressively, thanks in part to wayward hits by Silie and Cleger. While Carcaces summoned a gigantic blow and huge block on Malika Kanthong, Pleumjit answered back with a typically quick spike from a short set by Nootsara Tomkom and Malika made a fine service ace. A brilliant spike by Wilavan from a difficult position had Thailand 7-6 ahead and the scores stayed close to 10-10.
Cuba threatened to pull away with an emphatic Palacios hit and a block and spike from Carcaces. Yet back came the Thais, led by Wilavan who conjured up four intelligent scores as her colleagues restored parity at 16-16. Indeed, between 15-14 and 24-23, when Sanchez earned match point, the margin between the sides was only ever a point. Thailand saved themselves on another short-set combination between Pleumjit and Nootsara, and the pair repeated the trick to make the score 25-25.
But they were subsequently unable to handle two spikes by Palacios that ended that match in Cuba's favour.