Tokyo, Japan, May 20, 2016 - Thailand is still in the hunt for a berth at it’s first ever Olympic Games, after beating Kazakhstan 3-0 (25-18, 25-19, 25-15) at the Women’s Qualification Tournament in Tokyo.
While the result is good news for Thailand, it also ends the chances of Kazakhstan to get to Rio, having failed to record a victory so far in five matches.
The big question was how would Thailand respond to the disappointment of Wednesday night, when it threw away what should have been an unbeatable lead to lose to Japan 3-2.
The first few points indicated it might be a tough ask to bounce back, but then the team clicked and returned to the fluency of earlier in the tournament.
Coach Radchatagriengkai once again preffered Pornpun Guedpard over regular setter, Nootsara Tomkom, but brought opposite Ajcharaporn Kongyot back after consigning her to the bench for most of Wednesday night.
Kazakhstan also brought back its big guns after resting them against Korea on Wednesday, including captain Radmila Beresneva and Kristina Anikonova, but after matching their Thai opponents early, found the going tough, losing the set 25-18.
Kazakhstan started the second set with much more vigour, leading 10-9 at one stage, but then gave up seven consecutive points to trail 10-16 and give up the set.
Nootsara was back for Thailand, and Ajcharaporn was doing her best to prove she belongs on the court always. Kazakhstan was blocking and setting well, but Thailand was proving too quick for the much taller opponents.
Kazakhstan, with it’s slim chance of Olympic qualification slipping away, put everything into the start of the final set, opening up a 5-2 lead. But once again it was unable to maintain the pressure, and with Thai Libero Piyanut Pannoy continuing her outstanding tournament, Thailand was soon back in control, 9-8.
As reality dawned on Kazakhstan the set and the match began to peter out, Thailand eventually winning 25-18, 25-19, 25-15, keeping its hopes of qualifying for a first-ever Olympics alive.
Kazakhstan will need to wait another four years to try again. The team has shown it has a solid defence, with their blocking as good as any team competing in Japan this week.
While still winless after five matches, the young and inexperienced team has shown it has the foundations to build itself into a stronger team for the future.
World Olympic Qualification Tournament websites:Women's WOQT in JapanMen's WOQT in JapanWomen's WOQT in Puerto RicoMen's WOQT in Mexico
Related information:Olympic qualification process