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Calypso Spikers take a set in Thailand loss

Wednesday, October 3, 2018
T&T’s senior women’s volleyball coach Francisco Cruz, left, talks to his charges during the time out in the World Championship game against the USA on Sunday in Japan. USA won 25-11, 25-12, 25-11. Photo by:Sean Morrison

Nigel Simon

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T&T ‘Calypso Spikers’ created history by winning a set, its first in a 3-1 loss to Thailand which kept the Caribbean team winless after three matches in Pool C at the 2018 FIVB Women’s World Championship at the Kobe Green Arena, Osaka, Japan, yesterday.

The Thais, ranked 16th in the world, delighted their large band of supporters by winning 25-17, 25-17, 23-25, 25-11 against the 34th world ranked T&T, the first English-speaking team to qualify to the competition. Thailand improves its win-loss record to 2-1.

It was a true team effort by the quick-to-improvise Thais, who had 17 points each from middle blocker Nuekjang Thatdao, with nine spikes and four blocks and aces, and Kongyot Ajcharaporn, who led the attack with 16 spikes.

The duo of Thinkaow Pleumjit and Apingyapong Wilavan added 15 and ten points respectively for the Asians who dominated on spikes 49-44, blocks 12-7 and service aces 11-5 while also committing fewer errors, 15 to T&T’s 26.

T&T's top scorer was southpaw spiker Krystele Esdelle with 15 points, one more than Channon Thompson and Sinead Jack while Jalicia Ross-Kydd added five, and Darlene Ramdin and captain Renele Forde, four each in the absence of the injured Delicia Pierre.

In the opening set, T&T looked lethargic at the start against the fired-up Thais and called a time-out after losing the first four points and trailed 8-1 at the first Technical Time Out.

Middle-blocker and captain Pleumjit looked set for a fierce battle at the centre of the net with Jack as they traded tasty spikes in the early stages, but it was a Pimpichaya block on Thompson that took the Thais into the second Technical Time Out ahead 16-10.

Thompson started cranking out some super spikes and southpaw Esdelle also found her way past the Thai defence to keep T&T right on their heels, only for some unforced errors at critical times to enable Thailand to pull clear and win the opening frame 25-17 with a winner at the net by middle blocker Thatdao.

The Thai dig was so good that, at one point in the second set, Esdelle turned her back on the play thinking her ferocious spike had brought a point, only to turn and see the ball was still alive - and for her team to finally win the point.

T&T could not rectify their serve reception and this caused them to lose some easy points, as well as upsetting their attacking patterns.

A right-wing spike from Ajcharaporn moved Thailand closer and Thatdao was having a fine game in attack and block and they finished strongly to take the second set 25-17 when Pleumjit pounced at the net for 2-0.

In the third set, T&T opened up a five-point lead 8-3 at the first Technical Time Out to give them rare breathing space, but could not maintain this pressure and consistency against a team that will never surrender one single point without a fight?

When Thatdao uncharacteristically spiked wide from the left, T&T's lead grew to six points and the eight-time reigning Caribbean champions appeared to have found their sparkle.

Trailing 23-22, Thailand suffered a major blow when Pimpichaya was carried off the court with a right knee injury before T&T won the third set 25-23 with a Ross-Kydd block.

Thailand rediscovered their fizz in the fourth set behind the swirling serves of Kanthong Malika which caused chaos in the T&T reception, and when the storm had settled, T&T trailed 13-6 before the Asians completed the easy fourth set win, which was soured a bit by Pimpichaya being taken to hospital with an injured knee, which was not expected to be too serious.

Speaking after the match, Thailand head coach Danai Sriwachamaytakul said, “It was a tough game because the T&T players have a big physique and are very tall and strong. Our defence found it hard against their attack. After the third set, I thought T&T looked a bit tired.

Cruz said he was very proud of his team and added, “I am proud of my team. Compared to other countries my players can train for only four or five days a week, not every day. Thailand played very fast and quick movement.

Forde added, “Our performance was up and down. Thailand is a very good team and our defence could not react to their quick movement. I am quite happy to win one set, but our play in the fourth set was very disappointing.

Thailand captain Thinkaow Pleumjit: It was a very difficult game because T&T have a lot of physical strength and a lot of height in the team. Sometimes we found it very difficult to hit spikes because of their high block system. In the fourth set, we could find our own style again.

Today, T&T women will be back in action again versus Azerbaijan from 12.40am (TT time) while tomorrow they will conclude round-robin play against Korea, also from 12.40am.


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