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Thailand topples tall and towering Italy in hard-fought five sets to finish 7th place

Italy uses a triple block for a fierce spike from Thailand.
Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand, July 12, 2009 – Hosts Thailand performed superbly in their 7th-8th play-off match against Italy to pull off a dramatic 3-2 win 25-23 24-26 25-22 16-26 15-10.
 Thailand, third in the Asian Championship, attempting to bury their bitter 1-3 loss to Italy in the group round-robin second round, got off to a flying start to lead 7-3. However, their back-row reception was in dismal form from then on, leaving the taller Italians to hit exceptionally well to the back court to close the margin 11-11. Cheered on lustily by a large crowd of home fans, the host girls tightened their defence and at the same time carried out good fight to commandingly move ahead 24-22. Italy saved one set point before going down in the closely-contested opening set 25-23.
 Italy replaced the 202cm Valentina Diouf, the championship’s tallest player, with the 201cm-tall Floriana Bertone to improve their fortune in the match. They stormed back from trailing 11-15 to come close at 19-20, thanks largely to the Thais’ poor reception. Leveling 22-22, both sides played at their best, the Italians used their height advantage to hit devastating hard-court to win the close set 26-24.
 In the third set, Thailand remained in great form. Hard-hitting Wanitchaya Luangtonglang, who led the team with 77 points including 68 kills in the championship total score, found gaps in the Italian court to spike exceptionally and put the team in front 22-17 before Italy bounced back mightily. Leading 24-21, Thailand allowed the tall and towering rivals one saved set point to net the fourth set win 25-22.
 In the deciding set, Thailand trailed 4-6 from the beginning but came back much stronger to win the set 15-10 and the 7th place in the world meet.

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