Thailand too strong for Iran at Asian meet

Thailand's Ajcharaporn Kongyot, left, goes for a block against Iran yesterday. PR

Thailand blanked Iran 3-0 (25-18, 25-12, 25-16) to claim their second successive Pool D win at the 2017 Asian Women's Volleyball Championship in the Philippines yesterday.

Chatchu-on Moksri top-scored for Thailand with 13 points. Wipawee Srithong had eight. Borhani Esfahani Maedeh was Iran's highest scorer with seven points.

Thailand take on Taiwan today at 2pm (Thai time) in the final game of the preliminary round at the Alonte Sports Arena in Binan. Iran and the Maldives face off at 11.30am at the Muntinlupa Sports Complex in Muntinlupa, Manila.

Taiwan crushed the Maldives 3-0 (25-9, 25-8, 25-10) in the other Pool D match to also claim their second win in as many games yesterday.

Coach Danai Sriwacharamaytakul kept the same starting line-up of Ajcharaporn Kongyot, Chatchu-on, Pimpichaya Kokram, Hattaya Bamrungsuk, Pornpun Guerdpard and Jarasporn Bundasak as in the opening match against the Maldives on Wednesday.

Iran proved to be much tougher opponents than the Maldives and the height of their players made things difficult for Thailand early in the match.

The Thai players began to find their rhythm midway through the opening set and former captain Wilavan Apinyapong was brought on to give the team of mostly young players some much needed direction in the later stage.

Setter Pornpun, who started the match in place of Nootsara Tomkom, improved in the second set while Chatchu-on also stepped up her game to help Thailand take the set 25-12.

Iran put up a stronger fight early in the third set, edging ahead for the first time in the match. Thailand rallied to make it 9-9 and the presence of veteran setter Nootsara helped steady the ship before Thailand took the set and the match.

In Pool A, Kazakhstan handed Hong Kong their second defeat, winning 3-0 (25-16, 25-17, 25-11), while Japan stunned reigning champions China 3-0 (25-14, 25-17, 26-24) to stay clean in Pool B.

In Pool C, South Korea and Vietnam picked up their second wins. The Koreans cruised past Sri Lanka 3-0 (25-14, 25-17, 25-13), while Vietnam routed New Zealand 3-0 (25-11, 25-12, 25-8).

The top two teams from four preliminary round groups will qualify for the next round.

Thailand are eyeing a top-four finish to earn a spot in the qualifying round for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

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