In-form Thailand and Indonesia got their 2023 Southeast Asian (SEA) Men’s Volleyball League campaign off to winning starts, with the former overcoming a strong challenge from Vietnam to repeatedly beat them in straight sets and the latter following suit after 3-0 rout of Philippines.
Ahead of the official kickoff, AVC President Mrs Rita Subowo and Indonesian Volleyball Federation President Mr Imam Sudjarwo jointly presided over the opening ceremony at Padepokan Voli Jenderal Polisi Kunarto Gymnasium in Jakarta, Indonesia on Friday.
Players from four participating teams – Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia marching into the competition venue to attend the ceremony.
In the curtain-raiser, world No.58 Thailand fielded a strong squad which captured the recent 2023 AVC Challenge Cup for Men in Chinese Taipei and earned them a final berth in the 2023 FIVB Volleyball Challenger Cup in Qatar from July 27 to 31. World No.56 Vietnam also had the same roster as the AVC Challenger Cup, but had a newcomer in opposite hitter Nguyen Van Quoc Duy.
Thailand, which stunned Vietnam 3-1 in the semifinals of the AVC Challenge Cup, struggled in the first two sets to edge the Vietnamese 25-23, 28-26, thanks to gritty display of Anurak Phanram, Anut Promchan and Thanathat Thaweerat.
Vietnam put up a good fight in the third set, hoping for a comeback, but their aggression and form did not pay its dividends as the Thais counter-attacked well with solid block from Kissada Nilsawai and spectacular attacks from Anurak and Anut. Thailand captured the set 25-21 and match.
Anurak Phanram, who landed the Most Valuable Player award at the AVC Challenge Cup, scored a match-high 20 points from 18 attacks, one block and one ace for Thailand. Nguyen Ngoc Thuan led Vietnam with 10 points.
In the second match, Indonesia, playing without its star spiker Rivan Nurmulki, lived up to home fans’ expectation as they shone through their fine attacks and impeccable defence to foil the Philippines’ determined fightback. After a hard-fought duel, Indonesia pulled off sensational straight-set win 25-20, 25-22, 25-19 against Philippines.
Farhan Halim and Dimas Saputra scored 15 points apiece for Indonesia, while Steven Charles Rotter and Joshua Umandal led Philippines after scoring 10 points each on the team’s loss.
After Day 1, Indonesia, coached by Chinese Jie Jiang, and Thailand, with Korean coach Park Kiwon at the helm, had 3 points apiece from one straight-set win, but…