Dominican Republic subdue Thailand in opening match
Nagoya, Japan, November 12, 2013 - Led by Bethania De La Cruz's match-high 25 points, the Dominican Republic defeated Thailand 25-23, 25-21, 25-23 in the opening match of the FIVB Women's Grand Champions Cup on Tuesday.
Prisilla Rivera added 15 points while Annerys Vargas chipped in with 10 points in the winning cause. Onuma Sittirak finished with 20 points as the leading scorer for Thailand.
The winners held a huge 12-3 advantage in the blocking category and also were better 6-2 in the serving aces charts. De la Cruz had five blocks and four aces among her 25 points while Vargas contributed 4 blocks.
After a sluggish start in the first set, the Dominicans came alive with an 11-3 run and retained the momentum for the remainder of the match. The Dominican Republic displayed good teamwork in the victory, with slick passing and some very good defense.
A nice dink by Onuma gave Thailand an early 3-2 lead in the opening set. A two-hand punch return by Brenda Castillo moved the Dominicans ahead 5-4. After her huge spike was saved, Prisilla Rivera responded with a dink for the Dominican Republic to cut their deficit to 7-6. Thailand led 8-6 at the first technical timeout.
Gina Mambru sent a serve long to put Thailand on top 10-9. There were several extended rallies as the match remained close. With Thailand in front 15-12, the Dominicans called a timeout. A well placed spike by Kanthong Malika sent Thailand into the second TTO with a 16-12 edge. Onuma's spike made it 20-14 and the Dominican Republic took a timeout.
A spike by Thinkaow Pleumjit moved the Thais within three points of the set at 22-17.De La Cruz guided a soft return to pull the Dominicans within 22-19. A great save by libero Brenda Castillo enabled the Dominicans to keep the play going and the equalized at 22-22. De La Cruz's soaring spike moved the Dominican Republic ahead 23-22. Thailand save one set point on a spike by Onuma for 24-23. Rivera's spike gave the Caribbeans the set at 25-23. De La Cruz had eight points in the set. Onuma had five.
The Thais moved out to a 6-4 lead in the second set. Onuma's spike evened the score at 7-7, before the Dominicans took an 8-7 lead into the first TTO on a spike by Rivera. Another Onuma spike made it 11-11. The Dominicans moved ahead 14-13 on an ace by De La Cruz. A quick spike by Pleumjit knotted it 15-15 and the Thais were up 16-15 at the second TTO. With the Dominican Republic ahead 20-19, Thailand called a timeout. A spike by Nuekjankg Thatdao pulled Thailand within a point at 21-20. De La Cruz continued her aerial assault with another spike and the Dominicans were within two points of the set at 23-20. A service error by Onuma gave the Dominican Republic the set at 25-21. De La Cruz had 13 points in the set.
A quick spike by Annerys Vargas spotted the Dominicans to a 4-1 lead in the third set. Thailand was up 8-7 at the first TTO in the third set as they looked to stay in the match. A spike just inside the sideline by Wilavan Apinyapong put Thailand up 11-8. A missed spike by Gina Mambru made it 13-8 for Thailand and the Dominican Republic called a timeout. The Dominicans responded with three straight points to make it 13-11 and the Thais took a timeout of their own. A nice dink by Wilavan took the score to 14-12. Pleumjit's spike sent the Thais into the second TTO with a 16-14 advantage. A service ace by Annerys Vargas tied it at 16-16. An Onuma spike made it 20-18 fpr Thailand. A net infraction by Thailand evened it at 20-20. De La Cruz moved the Dominicans in front 21-20 with another soaring spike. Mambru's spike put the Dominican Republic within two points of the match at 23-22. The Dominicans closed it out on a nice block.