June 16, 2012 00:00
By Preechachan Wiriyanupappong
The Thailand women's volleyball team proved their scintillating win over Puerto Rico last week was no fluke, again brushing off the world No 19 in a dramatic clash in the FIVB World Grand Prix Preliminaries second leg yesterday.
Last week’s first leg in Macau saw Thailand finish second after thrashing Argentina and Puerto Rico in straight sets before losing 3-1 to hosts China.
This week, Thailand travelled to Japan for second-leg Pool F matches against Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic and the hosts.
Against old foes Puerto Rico yesterday, they kept faith with the strong starting roster – Wilavan Apinyapong, Onuma Sittirak, Malika Kanthong, Amporn Hyapha and Pleumjitr Thinkaow – that won Thailand their first gold medal at the Asian Women’s Volleyball Championship, in 2009 in Vietnam. From the start yesterday, Onuma and Wilavan punctured the Puerto Rican defence with fierce spikes to take the opener 25-18.
The Central Americans roared back to win the second set 25-19 and level the match but Thailand regrouped and surged to a one-sided 25-11 win in the third. Maintaining momentum, they marched on to capture the fourth 25-19 for the match.
Onuma top-scored with 21 points for Thailand, 20 of them from devastating attacks. Sarai Alvarez scred a high of 13 points for the Puerto Ricans.
The win improved the world No 12 Thailand’s win-loss record to 4-1 against Puerto Rico.
“I’m satisfied with the way my players operated. A win here was not that easy,” said Thai head coach Kiattipong Radchatagriengkai.
“We have played the Dominicans three times and lost each time. They’ve already qualified for the London Olympics so it won’t be easy to beat them.”
The other match saw hosts Japan crush Dominican Republic in straight sets 25-17 25-13