Kobe, Japan, October 2, 2018 - Thailand recorded a sparkling 3-1 victory over World Championship rookies Trinidad and Tobago in Pool C at Kobe Green Arena on Tuesday afternoon. The Thais, ranked 16th in the world, delighted their large following by winning 25-17, 25-17, 23-25, 25-11 to improve their win-loss record to 2-1. The 34th-ranked T&T slipped to a third straight defeat.
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. T&T's top scorer was southpaw spiker Krystele Esdelle with 15 points, one more than Channon Thompson and Sinead Jack.
T&T looked lethargic at the start against the fired-up Thais, calling a TO after losing the first four points and trailing 8-1 at the first TTO.
Middle blocker and captain Thinkaow Pleumjit looked set for a fierce battle at the centre of the net with Sinead Jack as they traded tasty spikes in the early stages, but it was a Pimpichaya block on Channon Thompson that took the Thais into the second TTO ahead 16-10.
Thompson started cranking out some super spikes and southpaw Krystle 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 Nuekjang 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.
Thailand 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 TTO to give them rare breathing space - but could they 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 Caribbean team 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 block.
Thailand rediscovered their fizz in the fourth set behind the swirling serves of Kanthong Malika which caused chaos in the T&T reception. When the storm had settled, T&T trailed 13-6.
After Thailand had completed their victory, Pimpichaya was taken from the court in a wheelchair with her right knee heavily strapped.