Thailand, former two-time Asian winners and runners-up at the previous edition, crashed out at the first hurdle of the 2017 Montreux Volley Masters in Montreux, Switzerland following their second loss to Germany on Thursday.
Thailand made history last year after they stunned reigning champions Turkey in the semi-finals, but went down to the World Cup winners China in the final showdown.
Hoping for a better performance after a 1-3 loss to Poland in their opening match on Wednesday, Thailand flew from the blocks into an 8-5 lead, but after German coach Felix Koslowski reconvened with his team over time-out, the Europeans emerged reinvigorated, and scored five unanswered points to take the lead.
Despite their five-set slog on Wednesday night with Brazil, the Germans didn’t look hindered by fatigue, and showed sharpness in their play and a ruthless clinical streak; Louisa Lippmann and Marie Scholzel’s 15 points (including two blocks) pressing home the opening set and snatching the lead with a 25-22 first-set win in the face of stern Thai resistance.
Their tournament prospects at stake, Thailand responded almost instantly in the second set, but the Germans were hot on their heels in a 10-7 scoreline. Intense exchanges of pressure followed as both sides upped the ante, and Pimpichaya Kokram hit two great spikes to put the Thais 20-19 to the good as the set reached its climax.
Thailand were courageous with a string of saves in key rallies to keep their noses in front, eventually seeing out the set with a score of 23-25 to level the game, to the delight of the raucous Thai supporters in attendance. The third set took off in competitive fashion, the two teams seemingly inseparable at a 7-7 stalemate.
The Germans managed to establish a gap of 13-9, only for the Thais to rally and restore parity at 14-14. A stunner for the spectator, this game would take nerves of steel on court to force the issue, and it was the Germans who showed such class and composure to edge into a three point lead at 19-16.
Thailand weren’t to be so easily undone and would secure three more points, but eight points from Lippmann and a further five from Jennifer Geerties proved decisive over the course of the set, and Germany reclaimed a 2-1 lead with a 25-19 third set victory.
The Germans sensed victory and looked to clinch the match in the fourth set, and opened up an 8-5 lead, Lippmann again influential.
Even as they and the Thais tired from Wednesday’s efforts, both teams continued to serve up an entertaining affair, with Germany 17-15 up as the set wore down to its conclusion.
Ajcharaporn Kongyot and Pimpichaya hit 13 points to keep their team in contention, but it was player of the match Lippmann who proved decisive, and her edge allowed Germany to clinch the fourth set 25-20 and the game with a 3-1 victory.
Thailand will attempt to salvage some pride against Brazil on Friday, as they aim to finish as strongly as possible in the pool before their classification tie, whilst the triumphant Germans will go into their clash with Poland full of confidence, yet still needing a positive result to guarantee progress to the semi-finals.