Bangkok, August 19, 2011 – Asian champions Thailand cleared their first hurdle in Pool K at the 2011 FIVB World Grand Prix on Friday, beating Argentina in straight sets (25-23, 25-15, 25-14) at the Keelawes 1 Gymnasium.
Pleumjit Thinkaow led Thailand with 16 points, followed by Malika Kanthong with 14. No Argentina player made it into double figures, Lucia Fresco top-scoring with nine points. Thailand outserved Argentina 8-2.
2011 FIVB Volleyball World Grand
Thailand fielded the established line-up that beat Cuba in the first week on home soil and Kazakhstan in Almaty last week. They included hard-attacking Wilavan Apinyapong, Onuma Sittirak and fast spiker Pleumjit Thinkaow. Although a large crowd of Thai spectators cheered on the home side, Argentina – with a distinct height advantage – also played well.
Fresco, Argentina's tallest player at 193 cm, produced some sharp spikes to help Argentina take a 6-4 lead in the first set. The South Americans used scintillating blocks and explosive spikes to stretch the lead to 17-14, but the hosts gradually pulled their game together and bounced back with some splendid fast spikes from Amporn Hyapha and Pleumjit. Thailand caught up with Argentina at 18-18 and powered on to win the closely contested set 25-23.
After losing the first set, Argentina tried hard to regain their composure, but their game became riddled with errors. Thailand jumped out to a 21-14 lead and clinched the one-sided set 25-15.
Argentina regained their composure and started to produce the goods in the third set, but Thailand did likewise and led 16-11 at the second technical timeout. The Thais' exceptional offensive combinations involving Wilavan and Pleumjit’s thundering spikes combined with solid blocking by Amporn Hyapha and Nootsara Tomkom put the home side in control. At 23-13, Pleumjit made a block to give her team matchpoint. Leticia Boscacci saved the first one, before Pleumjit made an effective drop shot in mid-court to seal the match.