Thailand shocked the powerful Dominican Republic with an epic five-set victory to close out their first round at the FIVB Women’s World Championship on Saturday in Gdansk, Poland.
Despite having already booked their ticket in the second round with three wins from their first four contests, the Thai women showed no complacency, going up against the vaunted wall of their tall Caribbean opponents to take the first set 31-29.
They lost the next two sets before taking the fourth set and the tiebreaker, for a final scoreline of 31-29, 16-25, 21-25, 25-22, 15-11.
Thailand’s scorers were led by Ajcharaporn Kongyot with 26 points and Pimpichaya Kokram with 25.
The victory puts Thailand atop Pool B for the moment, pending the outcome of the later Poland-Turkey match.
Coach Danai Wacharasrimaytakul said before the tournament that reaching the second round of the 24-team event was his goal.
The world No.14 Thais lived up to the challenge and are through to the round of 16 thanks to defeats of Turkey, Croatia and South Korea, and now the eighth-ranked Dominican Republic. Their only loss was to Poland.
“We have met our target of reaching the second round, but more importantly our players have improved,” Danai said after the win over South Korea on Thursday.
Team captain and playmaker Pornpun Guedpard said after the thrlling victory that the Thai team did not expect to do this well against Dominican Republic, after they were up against several strong opponents in the past week.
Two eight-team pools will compete starting on Tuesday in the second round of the championship that is being held in Poland and the Netherlands until Oct 15.
The top four teams in each pool will advance to the quarterfinals.
Thailand are playing in their seventh world championship, with their best finish being 13th in 2010 and 2018.
The team’s ultimate goal is winning the country’s first-ever Olympic spot in the sport at Paris 2024.