Was only able to catch the live stream from the 3rd set onwards of the Sep 19 semifinal match between Thailand and China in the 2016 AVC Cup for Women currently played in Vietnam (14 Sep to 20 Sep). And the game ended with the Chinese beating the Thais.
Well, looking at how the Thais started the tournament — that is struggling in a 5-set victory over the Taiwanese on their opening match — it’s not really surprising that they would lose against the Chinese in the semifinals. Indeed, t’was sort of a premonition. The Thais just got off the wrong side of the bed.
See? In this match against the Chinese, they were even leading 2 sets to 1, but only to allow a Chinese comeback. How did this happen?
One. Thailand’s coach just kept shuffling his girls. While it’s good to rest the players and disrupt their opponent, constant shuffling prevented better and ‘long-term’ team cohesion. Besides, the strengths and weaknesses of the girls on the floor were not balanced.
Two. T’was #20 Soraya who was used more rather than #3 Pornpun, their current team’s best setter. So what happened? There were times, especially during critical moments that the balls were late — more so, the setting angles were not to the strengths of the spiker. Hmm…
THAI’S BEST SIX
For this team that the Thais brought to Vietnam..
#3 Pornpun. Key Skill: Setting. Secondary Skill: Receiving. With her on the floor, the ‘attacking engine’ of the Thais are in place. Take her out, they could lose to a good opponent.
#5 Pleumjit. Key Skill: Fast Attack. Secondary Skill: Blocking. Against taller and stronger opponents like the Chinese, Americans, Europeans and Latinas — Pleumjit’s quick plays would be less effective. However, her primary skill is reliant on a good setter; thus, if the timing and angles are well placed, she’s an indispensable weapon to have.
#18 Ajcharaporn. Key Skill: Power Spike. Secondary Skill: Fast Attack. Kongyot is probably the best power spiker in Thailand today. With her athleticism, she’s just wonderful to watch doing a back row attack — only few has that kind of power. So just imagine her side attacks as well.
Being athletic, she should vary her attacks and try ‘quick plays’ every now and then to confuse opponents.
#4 Thatdao. Key Skill: Blocking. Secondary Skill: Power Spike. Though Thatdao is known to be a power spiker, only few must have noticed that her better skill would be ‘blocking’. She’s tall and strong enough to handle opposing howitzers from the net.
#2 Piyanut. Key Skill: Receiving. Secondary Skill: Setting. Small as she is, she’s got enough strength and good reflexes to catch those bombs thrown by opposing spikers. Invaluable against teams with heavy attackers. Plus there’s a bonus — with Piyanut on the floor, the Thais got another setter in case the ball gets too far from #3 Pornpun.
SIXTH SPOT. This may come as a surprise but it would be #12 Pimpichaya — instead of either veterans #10 Wilavan or #15 Malika. Yes, both are experienced power spikers (that’s their primary skill) but their game seems to have deteriorated. Wilavan got weaker, yeah, her leaps and spikes; while Malika has become kinda erratic. Lately, her attacks just seem to end up outside the court, or off the mark. Are they just getting older? For power hitters, perhaps.
#12 Pimpichaya is younger, quicker and more athletic than either Wilavan and Malika.. So? She just needs to develop judgment which, in this case, only experience could give.
In the end, the 2-3 loss of Thailand against China in this semifinals was really due to the constant shuffling of players.