2019 FIVB VNL preview – is Thailand’s speed enough to stay with the world’s best?

Thailand has long firmly established itself as a powerhouse in Southeast Asia when it comes to women’s volleyball. But for all its regional success, the country has yet to make a mark on the world stage.

With several veteran players, including the ever popular Nootsara Tomkom, can Thailand change that at FIVB VNL 2019?

Don’t miss the FIVB VNL 2019!

Watch all 260 games of the best men & womens international volleyball online - LIVE & on-demand!

Don’t miss the FIVB VNL 2019!

Watch all 260 games of the best men & womens international volleyball online - LIVE & on-demand!

2018 FIVB VNL record & stats

Win/loss: 15th

Points: 2 / 13

Sets win/loss/ratio: 7

Points win/loss/ratio: 17 / 41 / 0.415

Final position: 1218 / 1355 / 0.899

What’s new for Thailand in FIVB VNL 2019?

Thailand’s women’s national team is still largely led by its veterans, so expect to see more of them returning for FIVB VNL 2019. But the team does have some fresh faces worth looking out for to see how much they’ve improved this year. Whilst now an experienced player keep an eye on the development of 19 year old Chatchu-on Moksri who has spent the season in Japan with the PFU BlueCats.

Coach Danai Sriwatcharamethakul is on his third year of coaching as well, so this squad has a fairly settled look to it.

Thailand world ranking: 14 (October 2018)

Thailand provisional roster

Full provisional squad listed with those subsequently cut in red.

Head coach: Danai Sriwatcharamethakul

Setters: Nootsara Tomkom, Pornpun Guedpard, Tichaya Boonlert, Gullapa Piampongsan

Liberos: Piyanut Pannoy, Tapaphaipun Chaisri, Supattra Pairoj, Yupa Sanitklang, Tikamporn Changkeaw

Middle Blockers: Thatdao Nuekjang, Pleumjit Thinkaow, Hattaya Bamrungsuk, Watchareeya Nuanjam, Amporn Hyapha, Chitaporn Kamlangmak, Tichakorn Boonlert, Kaewkalaya Kamulthala

Wing Spikers (Outside & Opposite Hitters): Wipawee Srithong, Onuma Sittirak, Wanitchaya Luangtonglang, Wilavan Apinyapong, Malika Kanthong, Pimpichaya Kokram, Ajcharaporn Kongyot, Chatchu-on Moksri, Jutarat Montripila, Thanacha Sooksod

Average age: 27.2 (2nd oldest)

Average height: 175.5cm (16th tallest)

Thailand players to watch in FIVB VNL 2019: Pleumjit Thinkaow, Wipawee Srithong, Nootsara Tomkom

Veteran middle blocker Pleumjit Thinkaow is still the driving force of this squad, despite already being 35 years old. She’s been on the national team since 2001 and has had a wealth of experience and success over the years. It appears skipper Thinkaow is still going strong as she was named Best Middle Blocker in the Thailand League for three consecutive years since the 2016-17 season.

Outside spiker Wipawee Srithong is a rising star for Thailand. She’s just 20 years old and has a lot of potential.

Setter Nootsara Tomkom, 33, may no longer be plying her club trade for Turkish powerhouse Fenerbahce SK but she still has the potential to be world class and provides further veteran experience.

Thai stars Tomkom & Thinkaow celebrate together

Thailand FIVB VNL 2019 match schedule

All times are listed in GMT.

Week 1

May 21 at 15:30 – Thailand v Germany

May 22 at 15:30 – Thailand v Italy

May 23 at 18:30 – Thailand v Poland

Week 2

May 28 at 11:30 – China v Thailand

May 29 at 08:30 – Korea v Thailand

May 30 at 08:30 – Belgium v Thailand

Week 3

June 4 at 11:05 – Thailand v Bulgaria

June 5 at 11:05 – Thailand v Dominican Republic

June 6 at 11:05 – Thailand v Turkey

Week 4

June 11 at 06:40 – Serbia v Thailand

June 12 at 06:40 – Brazil v Thailand

June 13 at 10:10 – Japan v Thailand

Week 5

June 18 at 11:00 – Netherlands v Thailand

June 19 at 14:00 – Russia v Thailand

June 20 at 11:00 – Thailand v USA

Thailand games to watch out for in FIVB VNL 2019

Tune into Thailand’s matches against its fellow Asian squads such as South Korea and Japan. Those games are always exciting and intense.

Last year, Thailand upset eventual ninth-place finisher Poland, so keep an eye out for the rematch at FIVB VNL 2019.

The bottom line: Is Thailand’s speed enough to keep up with the world’s best?

Thailand has won the gold for women’s volleyball in the last 11 consecutive Southeast Asian Games dating back to 1995. Veteran players Thinkaow and Tomkom have been a part of that winning tradition since 2001. It also won bronze and silver, respectively, during the 2014 and 2018 Asian Games.

All that success is a testament to Thailand’s undisputed regional dominance as well as its capability to keep up with stronger continental rivals. But despite all of that – and even with the sport’s huge popularity in the country – Thailand remains largely unknown in global volleyball.

Thailand’s women’s volleyball team has never qualified for the Olympics and the country has competed in only six World Championships since 1998, with a best result of 13th place during the 2010 and 2018 editions. At last year’s FIVB VNL, Thailand wound up 15th.

It’s clearly a slow climb towards being up to par with world-class teams. The Thais bank on their quickness to make up for a lack of size, which is a staple for the world’s best squads. So once the game slows down and it gets physical, Thailand struggles. It also relies heavily on defense and near-perfect execution to compete against the world’s bigger teams. But will speed be enough to do well at FIVB VNL?

This team is still finding its feet on the global stage and working to raise its level of play to meet world standards, so playing at tournaments like FIVB VNL will be invaluable for them. There’s still a long way to go but the goal should always be to qualify for these kinds of tournaments in order to keep on improving.

What is a realistic FIVB VNL projection for the Thailand women’s team?

A good result for Thailand would be to stay on for next year’s tournament. It was in serious danger of being relegated last year so know that it must do better this time around.

How to watch Thailand in FIVB VNL 2019

FIVB haven’t as yet released the broadcast details for the 2019 FIVB Volleyball Nations League. Once it is updated we will update this section.

For now we are able to say that fans in Thailand were able to watch the 2018 tournament on TV3 Thailand.

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