Sendai, Japan - Fresh from stunning reigning and 11-time champions Brazil the previous day, Thailand found fired-up Serbia too strong to go down in four sets 17-25 25-23 16-25 19-25 at their last Pool D encounter at the 2017 FIVB World Grand Prix Preliminary Round at the Kamei Arena Sendai on Sunday.
Thailand, current world No.14 which captured the Asian crown in 2009 in Hanoi and 2013 in Nakhon Ratchasima, fielded the similar strong line-up which overpowered the consecutive two-time Olympic champions on Saturday led by star spiker Pleumjit Thinkaow and Ajcharaporn Kongyot.
After conceding the opening set 17-25, the Thai team came up with boosted confidence and consistency to take the hard-fought second set 25-23. However, they still could not end the Serbian onslaughts led by powerful Brankica Mihajlovic to suffer straight two sets 16-25 19-25 and a 1-3 loss.
Ajcharaporn Kongyot led Thailand with 13 points including 12 kills from 37 attempts. Captain Pleumjit Thinkaow added 10 kills and young Chutchu-on Moksri contributed 9 attack hits. Following the loss, Thailand finished fourth in Pool D with 3 points from one win against two losses. Clinching the top spot in the pool were Serbia after collecting 6 points from two wins against one loss.
Hosts Japan finished second with 5 points from two wins against one loss, while Brazil bagged 4 points to claim the third place.
After the match, Thailand head coach Danai Sriwacharamaytakul admitted the loss and said. “Serbia’s blocks and spikes were really strong and it’s hard to get any points on them. We tried our best, but their blocks were so high and we found it very difficult to overcome their high blocks with our spikes. Their serves were also great and foiled our attempts to counter-attack. We still have many things to learn and improve, but I hope that my players can learn from the past mistakes. We will try our best in the next Pool H encounters at home.”
Thailand captain Pleumjit Thinkaow added, “Serbia are very tall, with strong attacks and serves. Their good serving really didn’t let us play our style of combination volleyball. We need to improve that.”
Thailand will leave Sendai early morning for the home land and are expected to arrive at Suvarnabhumi Airport at 4.30pm on Monday, ready for the World Grand Prix Pool H clash at the Hua Mark Indoor Stadium from July 21 to 23. Turkey, Italy, Dominican Republic and hosts Thailand will battle it out for their better positions in this year’s World Grand Prix. Only top five plus hosts China will qualify for the World Grand Prix Finals in Nanjing from August 2 to 6.