Bulgaria survive match point to beat Thailand in tiebreak


Osaka, Japan, October 10, 2018 - Bulgaria saved one match point before beating Thailand 19-17 on their fourth match point of the tiebreak in a roller-coaster Pool F clash at Osaka Municipal Central Gymnasium on Wednesday afternoon. Bulgaria won 3-2 with set scores of 25-18, 22-25, 18-25, 25-22, 19-17 in 2 hours and 7 minutes of fluctuating form and fortunes. Bulgaria improved their win-loss record to 3-5 and dropped Thailand to the same mark after eight matches.

Nasya Dimitrova led all scorers with 28 points, with 22 spikes and five blocks, and Gergana Dimitrova scored 20.

Thailand's Sittirak Onuma scored 24 for Thailand and captain Pleumjit Thinkaow added 18.

Bulgaria started strongly on spike and block. Gergana Dimitrova and Miroslava Paskova pierced the Thai defence and captain Hristina Ruseva and Nasya Dimitrova recorded crunching blocks against the Thai attack. The Europeans led 16-11 at the second TTO.

For Thailand, captain Pleumjit Thinkaow and Malika Kanthong gave the Bulgarians plenty to think about with their customary high-speed counters, and Onuma Sittirak scored impressively from an overhead set out on the right.

The Bulgarians maintained a fast pace and raced to the first set 25-18 in 24 minutes. Wing spiker Gergana Dimitrova scored nine points alone in the first set, with eight spikes and one block point.

In the second set, Onuma's block for 4-1 sent Bulgaria into an early TO and the Thais still led by three at the first TTO, 8-5. The Thais had certainly bolstered their block and all-round defence and the Bulgarian points were not as free-flowing as in the first set.

The blocking of Nasya Dimitrova and clever attack of Paskova kept Bulgaria in touch and two consecutive aces from Ruseva pushed her team in front 14-13. Wilavan, Onuma and Thatdao Nuekjang moved Thailand ahead 18-16 and Bulgaria needed a TO to stop the string of Thai points. The second set was now a great battle, and Thailand scored an extraordinary point when Pleumjit spiked deep after Onuma's incredible one-fisted save when all seemed lost.

Onuma brought up two set points at 24-22 and then clinched it with an ace for 25-22 and 1-1.

Bulgaria looked to re-establish their authority in the third set through Nasya Dimitrova and Mariya Karakasheva but the Thais would not allow them to move clear as Wilavan, Pleumjit and Thatdao all broke through at regular intervals to keep the score neck and neck. Every Thai point was greeted with screams of delight from their proud fans in the arena and they led 16-15 at the second TTO.

Bulgaria needed a TO at 19-16 to try and deal with the play of Pleumjit at the net and the Onuma-Wilavan-Malika triumvirate. When Thatdao blocked Gergana Dimitrova the tide had turned towards Thailand and they closed out the third set 25-18 for 2-1 as the Bulgarians looked lost against the flowing blue waves of Thai play.

In the fourth set, Nasya Dimitrova's brilliant blocking kept the Thais in their sights. Bulgaria led 16-14 at the second TTO and Gergana Dimitrova's ace gave Bulgaria fresh hope, only to run into Pleumjit's well-organised block which sent Bulgaria into a TO. Bulgaria had two set points at 24-22 and Nasya Dimitrova blasted through the Thai block for 25-22 and 2-2.

In the tiebreak, Karakasheva fired Bulgaria into an 8-6 lead at the turnaround. A Thatdao block brought the scores level 13-13. Thailand had one match point at 15-14 but succumbed to Bulgaria's block on the Europeans' fourth match point.


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