FIVB - Volleyball World Grand Prix 2012

MATCH INFO

Thailand overpower Serbia in dramatic four sets to secure Finals berth


Thailand use a triple block on Jovana Vesovic

Bangkok, Thailand, June 23, 2012 – Hosts Thailand pulled off a magnificent come-from-behind 3-1 (12-25 25-16 25-19 25-21) victory over European champions Serbia to stay unbeaten at home in their Pool J encounter in the FIVB World Grand Prix on Saturday.

Powerful Onuma Sittirak scored a match-high 17 points for Thailand, assisted by Wilavan Apinyapong’s 16 kills and four blocks from Malika Kanthong. The 193cm-tall Nadja Ninkovic led Serbia with 13 points consisting of seven deadly attacks and six blocks.

The crucial win means Thailand stay fourth in the overall standing with 20 points from eight matches, sufficient enough to win a berth for the Finals in Ningbo, China from June 27 to July 1.

Serbia, who lost to Thailand in straight sets at the last month’s World Olympic Qualification Tournament in Tokyo, Japan, started well under pressure when they attacked aggressively right from the whistle to take an initial 5-0 lead in the first set. The visitor's height difference proved vital as they went further ahead. Thailand regrouped to play more consistently, but their determined attempts were in vain as Serbia took the set.
 
After going down in the first set, Thailand came back stronger in the second to lead 4-1. Wilavan was the backbone of the team, puncturing the Serbian defence with her sharp spikes at the net. As the host team launched a barrage of explosive  attacks, the world No.6 lost touch. Onuma carried out a number of powerful jump serves, while Wilavan and Pleumjit Thinkaow made an excellent offensive combination to help the host team widen the gap to 16-8 and 21-13. The height remained the visitors’ weapon, while the host's amazing speed and power at the net proved too much for Serbia. Leading 22-15, Thailand allowed the much taller rivals only one more point to wrap up the set 25-16.

Their confidence skyhigh following the second-set win, Thailand remained in splendid form to lead 5-1 and advanced to 12-5 in the third set. Onuma continued her brilliance to pound the taller blockers with lightning-fast spikes as the hosts entertained the home crowds with acrobatic fast spikes and never-say-die attitude. Thailand moved ahead 19-14 and 21-18 before Serbia fielded tall and towering Sanja Starovic, 195cm to foil the Thais’ attacking attempts. However, their fightback did not last long when the host side marched on their significant performance to win the hard-fought set 25-19.

Both sides poured everything into the contest in the fourth, however Thailand fared better to take a narrow 8-7 lead. After a few rallies, the Serbians counter-attacked well to catch Thailand at 9-9. The home side still had enough to hold them off which saw Onuma give Thailand a strong comeback as she attacked from all corners. The battle became more thrilling when hosts Thailand were leading narrowly 23-21. Nootsara Tomkom’s well-placed serve brought Thailand to a matchpoint 24-21 before Serbia blocked out a sharp spike from Malika Kanthong in a last-ditch attempt. Thailand eventually captured the set 25-21 and the match.

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