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Thailand win AVC Cup for Women, qualify for World Grand Prix
Thailand overcame China in four sets (30-28, 25-27, 25-21, 25-20) to capture gold at the 3rd AVC Cup for Women at the Baluan Sholak Sport and Culture Palace on Sunday. The win qualified the Thais for next year’s FIVB World Grand Prix, along with Kazakhstan, who took the bronze medal after defeating Vietnam 3-0 (25-18, 25-20, 25-16).
Defending champions China faced its toughest opponent in the competition as Thailand came into the match with an unblemished win-loss record. The action between the two teams proved to be intense.
Although Thailand scored first, China emerged as the early frontrunner in the first set before Thailand pulled back to 6-6 and China coach Yu Juemin called a timeout. China’s top scorer, Hui Ruoqi, utilised her quickness and power to create transition plays that were difficult for the Thai defenders to counter. Teammate Xu Yunli also imposed her presence at the net with strong spikes and commanding blocks. Hui and Xu scored 14 points apiece. But China’s game crumbled as Onuma Sittirak piled on the pressure, taking the scores to 26-26. Thailand eventually pulled away and sealed the first set 30-28.
Thailand brilliantly executed combination plays in the second before defending champions China fought back to take the set 27-25.
Thailand’s dominance in the third and fourth sets implied that they wanted to win more. Although the third set was close, the Thais stayed strong and ended on top.
Thailand took an 8-4 lead in the fourth set as China struggled to break through, scoring mainly on Thai errors. China’s main setter Wei Qiuyue saw some action in the match, hoping to spark the Chinese offense, but the move was too late. Thailand started to pull away, taking the final set 25-20 and with it the top prize.