Thailand outclass Indonesia to reign supreme at FIVB Men’s World Championship SEA Qualification Tournament
A fired-up Thailand, impressed with a gutsy, never-say-die performance, and in-form Indonesia had already qualified for the final round of the FIVB Volleyball Men's World Championship 2014 Asian Zone as both sides registered successive wins in the single round-robin competition however Friday’s clash was to decide the tournament's eventual winners.
Thailand fielded the similar line-up which beat Myanmar in comfortable straight sets on Thursday. They included powerful hitters Jirayu Raksakaew and Kittikun Sriutthawong. Indonesia also came up with a strong side which had played the 2012 Asian Men’s Club and the South East Asian Games on their homesoil in Palembang.
In the first set, the hosts got off to a flying start, with smashing machine Jiraya, standing 1.95m tall, overcoming the smaller blockers with his explosive attacks for Thailand to take an initial 10-4 lead. Thailand shone through a splendid combination between deadly backcourt spikes by Kittikun and Jirayu and the scintillating blocks from Kitsada Somkane and Teerasak Nakprasong. Thailand took the first set comfortably 25-14.
The second set turned out to be a clash of the titans when both sides exchanged aggressive attacks which saw the leads change hands several times. As the visitors tightened their defence to foil Thailand's attacking opportunities, they stormed to a 23-20 lead, at which point Thailand replaced setter Saranchit Charoensuk with 2.03m Kissada Nilsawai to help block the relentless attacks from their formidable rivals. The Thai attempts were fruitful as they finally closed the margin to 23-23. Again, I. Puto Randu Wahyu have Indonesia hope when he produced an excellent midcourt drop to put his team in front 24-23. Still, the Thai players never gave up easily. They regrouped and bounced back gallantly to level 24-24. From then, it became an exciting see-saw battle when both sides poured everything to win the set. At 35-35, Kittikun overcame the Indonesian blockers with his sharp spike to move Thailand ahead 36-35 and the remarkable run of the visitors was ended shortly when a thundering spike from Agung Seganti went wide. The hosts captured the heart-pounding marathon set 37-35.
The third set remained hotly-contested, with both teams fighting it all-out. Thailand captured pole position 19-18 and their consistent play helped stretch their lead to 24-20, needing only one more point to wrap up the match. The lanky Kissada’s serve went to the net, giving Indonesia another life. However, the visitors just blew the given chance away when a serve from I. Komang Suarnata went beyond the back court line. Thailand won the set 25-21 and the encounter.
Jirayu Raksakaew scored a match-high 23 points for Thailand and Ayip Rizal scored 20 points to emerge as the top scorer of Indonesia.
Thailand coach Monchai Suphajirakun commented after his team’s win. “Playing Indonesia is not easy. They played with a variety of tactics and techniques. They changed several players to improve their game, but we read their strategic plan well. I think their fast spikes are very effective, but our counter-attacking is also better.
“I’m happy with my team’s win. We will next take part in the 27th Summer Universiade in Kazan, Russia and hope we can maintain our form to fare well there and return with good results. We will also compete in the Asian Championship and hope to match well with Asian powerhouses such as China,” he added.
Meanwhile, Myanmar registered their first win in the tournament after producing a magnificent come-from-behind 17-25 25-14 26-24 20-25 15-9 victory over Vietnam.
Vietnam started strongly in the first set, thanks to thundering attacks from Nguyen Huu Ha and solid blocks by Giang Van Duc. The Vietnamese took the first set without much trouble 25-17.
Myanmar regained their composure to storm back bravely with their improved teamwork and form to win the next two sets 25-14 26-24.Vietnam found their rhythm in their fourth set which they won 25-20.
The decider saw Myanmar continue their brilliant form with solid blocks and devastating cross-court spikes from Aung Thu. Myanmar won the thrilling rally 15-9 and the grueling encounter.
Hard-attacking Aung Thu, who became the best scorer of Myanmar in their first two matches against Indonesia and Thailand, remained a star spiker of the team on Friday. Aung Thu scored the tournament’s highest 35 points including 30 kills and four stuff blocks in this match against Vietnam, which was led by Ngo Van Kieu with 19 points.
At the end of the three-day single round-robin tournament, Thailand were crowned the champions with nine points from three straight wins. Indonesia came in second place with five points from two wins against one loss. Myanmar and winless Vietnam finished third and fourth places with three points and one point respectively.
With only two teams from this tournament advancing to the final round, Thailand and Indonesia have booked their berths. The draw for the final round will be made later after the conclusion of all Asian zonal rounds.
Single round-robin matches
Myanmar b Vietnam 3-2 (17-25 25-14 26-24 20-25 15-9)
Thailand b Indonesia 3-0 (25-14 37-35 25-21)