Kielce, Poland, August 1, 2009: In the second Saturday game in Kielce Thailand (19th in the FIVB ranking) defeated favorite Japan (ranked 6th) in an incredible tie-break 3-2 (19-25, 25-20, 25-18, 20-25, 15-11). After two games of the competition Thailand surprisingly has impressive record of 2 wins and on Sunday will fight against Netherlands for the first place in the 1st preliminary round pool B.
Pleumjit Thinkaow, Wilavan Apinyapong and Malika Kanthong – those three Thailand spikers scored 18 points for Thailand. On the other side of the net Maiko Sakashita earned 25 points for Japan.
At the beginning of the first set the battle between two Asian teams was very equal (3-3, 5-5). The supporters in Kielce could see a lot of long rallies as both teams are famous for great play in defense. Thanks to the better efficiency in attack (especially winning counter – attacks) Japan (lead by experience setter –Yoshie Takeshita) jump out into 3 point’s lead at the second TTO (13-16). When Japanese advantage grew up to 4 points (13-17) Thailand team head coach asked for time-out in order to improve the situation. However, when Pleumjit Thinkaow was stopped by the Japanese block the margin between two teams was secured (15-20, 16-22, 18-23). Japan won the set by 6 points (19-25).
The second set was quite similar – very competitive at the start (3-3, 5-5) but this time it was Thailand that went on into first TTO with one point’s advantage (8-7). At this stage of the game Onuma Sittirak from Thailand presented some excellent kills and her team jump out to 12-9. When Onuma Sittirak was stopped by the Japanese block the advantage decreased to only 1 point (15-14), however Thailand maintained the lead at the second TTO (16-14). An ace by Onuma Sittirak gave the Thailand point number 20t and the scoreboard was 20-17. That was decisive moment of the set as Japanese didn’t manage to cut the gap and ultimately score was 25-20 for Thailand after efficient attack by the captain Wilavan Apinyapong.
The victory in the second set gave Thailand more confidence as they started the third part of the game well motivated and patient in defense (2-0, 3-1). It was 8-5 for Thai players at the first technical time-out. Joshie Takeshita tried to run the combination play but the Japanese spikers made a lot unforced mistakes (11-6). Furthermore, Thailand played better in service and block (it was 15-9 after the block on Erika Araki). At the second TTO the Thailand team’s advantage was maintained (16-10). Even Japanese libero – Yuko Sano had problems with perfect reception of the Thai girls service (19-10). At the end of the set Japanese manage to reduce a few points but Thailand won the third set 25-18.
In the final set Thailand continued ambitious play in defense and was still ahead of Japan (8-7) at the first TTO. When Thai girls jumped out to 11-8 Manabe Masayoshi asked for the time-out. At that stage of the set Thailand reinforced the service and played better in block. Japanese young and completely different team changed after the Olympics in Beijing didn’t give up - managed to equalized the score (14-14) and even took the lead (14-15) thanks to the clever, difficult service by Maiko Sakashita. It was Japan that went on into the second TTO as a leader (15-16). The battle between two Asian teams was on (16-16, 17-17). When Ampom Hyapha was stopped by Japanese block the score was 17-19 in favor of Japan. When Japanese team jump out to 19-22 Thailand head coach asked for the time-out. His team managed to recuperate a little (20-22) but Japan controlled the game and secured the tie-break (20-25).
The final set has started as usually from the long, unbelievable rallies in defense but it was Thailand that won first two actions (2-0). However Japan immediately tied the score (2-2). A few minutes later Thailand build up the advantage (6-3) thanks to the winning counter-attacks. After an ace by Pleumjit Thinkaow Thailand went on 8-4 lead. Ambitious Japanese girls equalized the score thanks to the clever service of Maiko Sakashita (8-8). When Saori Kimura was blocked (10-8) Manabe Masayoshi asked for time-out. The end of the set was once again full of incredible defenses and digs but ultimately Thailand showed better efficiency in counter-attacks and won the game (15-11).
On Sunday – the last day of the competition in Kielce Poland will face Japan (there are two teams without victory) while the favorite Netherlands will play against sensational Thailand fo the first place in Pool B.