Kobe, Japan, September 29, 2018: Thailand came back from one set down to beat Korea Republic 3-2 in a Pool C Asian classic at Kobe Green Arena on Saturday night.
The Thais followed up their recent victory over Korea in the Asian Games semi-finals in Jakarta with another stirring success. The set scores were 18-25, 25-22, 25-19, 13-25, 15-11 in a two-hour marathon.
Kokram Pimpichaya top-scored for Thailand with 25 points, including 23 spikes, and veteran Sittirak Onuma added 16, with 15 spikes.
For Korea, captain Kim Yeon Koung led the way with 23 points, ably supported by Park Jeongah with 18 spikes.
The match was a fantastic advert for Asian women's volleyball and offered a fascinating contrast of styles.
Whereas the taller and more powerful Koreans tried to work openings for their big hitters and defended the net with their middle blockers, the Thais relied on speed and teamwork and well-drilled attacking moves, together with dizzying defence.
There was a tremendous atmosphere inside the arena as both teams attracted large and noisy groups of supporters, despite the threat of a typhoon heading for Kansai.
The action matched the lively environment, with plenty of acrobatic rallies and swift attacking patterns to keep the points ticking over. For Thailand, Kongyot Ajcharaporn and Kokram Pimpichaya were prominent, even though the Thais in general lacked the height to capitalise on their high-speed build-up play.
For Korea, Yang Hyo Jin brought the magic 25 closer with a well-worked spike and Kim Yeon Koung pounded a glorious winner to keep Korea in front. Lee Jaeyeong brought up set point at 24-17 and the set ended 25-18 on a Thai serve error.
In the second set, both teams made costly errors to prevent either of them pulling away. The Koreans led 16-14 at the second TTO but needed a TO when Thailand pulled level at 16-16.
The veterans Onuma, captain Pleumjit and Wilavan led the Thai challenge with their experience and never-say-die attitude, and Onuma flicked over a winner to clinch the second set 25-22 for 1-1.
The Thais certainly looked in a more confident mood at the start of the third set as they contnnted to deny Korea's taller attackers with their incredible defence and block.
The Thais were on fire and Korea had no answer to the improvisation and instinctive play. Thailand won the third set 25-19 to lead 2-1.
In the fourth set, Korea came back into the match led, inevitably, by captain Kim. The Korean fans were happy again, after being quietened by the Thais - on and off the court.
The Thais had lost their rhythm against the strong Korean block of Yang and lost the fourth set 25-13 for 2-2.
Incredibly, the Koreans could not take this domination into the tiebreaker as Thailand rediscovered their verve and energy. Thailand turned around ahead 8-4 and kept in front all the way to 15-11 on their second match point for a famous 3-2 victory.