The 2019 Southeast Asian Games is roughly six months away. Athletes’ preparations enter crunch time given that days go by quickly. As a result, players and national teams are gearing up by joining other competitions.
Thailand joins international competitions
The Thais started their overseas schedule by participating in the Montreux Masters. They showed promise by defeating Italy and Switzerland to start the tournament. Thailand still entered the semifinals even after losing to Turkey. Unfortunately, Poland defeated them in three sets which sent them to the bronze medal match. The defending SEA Games champions finished fourth by suffering a defeat to Italy.
Coach Danai Sriwatchamaytakul’s squad made the trip from Switzerland to Poland for the first week of the Volleyball Nations League. Despite winning over the Germans, the Thais suffered consecutive defeats to Italy and Poland. The 14th best team in the world will face Belgium, South Korea, and China in Week 2 of VNL 2019.
Even their Under-23 squad sprung into action during the recently concluded VTV9-Binh Dien Cup in Vietnam. They entered the semifinals with a 2-1 record in pool play but lost to eventual champions Sichuan in five sets. Fortunately, they won third place against home team VTV Binh Dien Long An. Wipawee Srithong and Thanacha Sooksod led the Thailand U23 team.
Manganang wraps up stint with Supreme Chonburi
Aprilia Santini Manganang became the first Indonesian to play volleyball overseas. She joined a loaded Supreme Chonburi squad which had Pleumjit Thinkaow and Ajcharaporn Kongyot to name a few. However, they finished second to Nakhon Ratchasima in the most recent Thailand League.
Fortunately, Manganang and her team qualified for the Asian Club Volleyball Championship. They made it all the way to the gold medal match after defeating Altay VC in their semifinal match. Tianjin Bohai Bank dashed their back-to-back title hopes in four sets.
Vietnam national team players participate in VTV Cup
While they will be wearing one flag in the SEA Games, Vietnam’s NT players represented different clubs in the tournament. Libero Le Thinh Than Lien played for Duc Giang Ha Noi VC. Meanwhile, Bui Thi Nga and Pham Thi Nguyen Anh suited up for Thong Tin Lien Viet Post Bank.
Middle blockers Bui Thi Nga and Le Thanh Thuy competed for Vietinbank. Joining them in the squad are outside hitter Dinh Thi Thuy and setter Nguyen Thi Hoai. However, VTV Binh Dien Long An have the most national team players with five. Nguyen Thi Kim Lien is their libero while Pham Thu Ha plays setter. Duong Thi Hen and Dang Thi Kim Thanh are part of their hitter rotation.
But their most popular player has to be Tran Thi Thanh Thuy. The 21-year-old led her squad to a semifinals bid by sweeping Pool A. Unfortunately, they were defeated by USA’s Bring It Promotions in four sets which sent them to fight for bronze. They ended the competition in fourth place after falling to Thailand U23. As consolation, she was named one of the Best Outside Hitters together with Sichuan’s Zhang Honglin.