Thais on track for Tokyo trip
Pimpichaya dazzles as hosts set up winners-take-it-all final with mighty South Koreans
published : 12 Jan 2020 at 04:01
newspaper section: Sports
The Thai women's volleyball team will battle it out against South Korea for a ticket to the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games today.
Thailand defeated Kazakhstan 3-1 (25-21, 25-20, 24-26, 25-21) in the semi-finals of the Asian qualification at Chatchai Hall in Nakhon Ratchasima last night.
South Korea beat Taiwan 3-1 (18-25, 25-9, 25-15, 25-14) in the other semi-final.
Thailand are looking to qualify for the Olympics for the first time.
Pimpichaya Kokram was in top form for Thailand, becoming the team's top scorer with 29 points. Veteran stars Onuma Sittirak and Malika Kanthong added 17 and 11 points respectively.
Kazakhstan's Sana Anarkulova and Alessya Safronova had 16 points each.
There was a concern among the Thai camp when captain and setter Nootsara Tomkom was replaced by Pornpun Guedpard at the start of the fourth set as she appeared to have hurt her ankle after attempting to block.
The Thais dominated the first two sets as Pimpichaya kept the scoreboard ticking for the home team.
Kazakhstan showed signs of recovery by grabbing the third but the Thais were quick to dash their hopes for an upset victory.
In the first semi-final, Kim Hee-Jin was South Korea's top scorer with 18 points while Yang Hyo-Jin added 15.
Chang Li-wen and Chang Li-yun had 14 and 11 points for Taiwan respectively.
Taiwan and Kazakhstan will play in a third-place play-off.
The winners of the Asian qualifiers will join other four winners from Europe, North America, South America and Africa qualifying tournaments in Tokyo.
In the European qualification, the semi-finals featured Germany v Netherlands and Poland v Turkey.
Japan have automatically qualified as hosts while Serbia, China, the United States, Brazil, Russia and Italy have booked their Tokyo tickets after winning intercontinental qualifiers in August last year.