Sport Center 1 made history Tuesday to become the first Vietnamese team to win the Asian Women’s Club Volleyball Championship with their comeback 3-2 victory against Thailand’s Diamond Food Fine Chef-Air Force.
The dramatic victory, coupled with a remarkable unbeaten record in the continent’s topflight club championship, ended Vietnam’s 22-year gold-medal drought since making their debut in the 2001 championship as hosts.
The country’s previous best result in this annual competition was in 2011 when Thong Tin LienVietPostBank finished fourth on home soil.
Star Tran Thi Thanh Thuy scored a match high 30 points including 28 attacks for Sport Center 1. Her teammates Tran Tu Linh and Vi Thi Nhu Quynh made great performance to add 20 and 17 points, respectively.
Lead setter and captain Nootsara Tomkom, mixed offensive combinations from powerful attacks from Wipawee Srithong and Sasipaporn Janthawisut with intensified blocks by Natasa Cikiriz and Thichakorn Boonlert for the convincing victory in the first two sets 25-21, 25-17.
Sport Center 1 tried their best but their efforts could only help to narrow the score.
Coach Nguyen Tuan Kiet of Sport Center 1 made several changes in the third set and his tactics paid off.
Sport Center 1 gradually pulled their game together and stormed back with spectacular attacks and gutsy displays to win 25-20, making home spectators at Vinh Phuc Gymnasium in the northern province of the same name go wild, shouting, clapping, dancing and waving flags.
The Vietnamese side continued playing well with their consistency and confidence to clinch the fourth set 25-22, forcing a do-or-die tiebreaker.
Captain Thuy, who plays professional league with PFU Blue Cats in the Japanese V.League Division 1, showed off her outstanding performance in the decisive set.
She helped the Vietnamese team to fight neck and neck with Diamond Food before breaking away to lead 13-9. The hosts made their visitors’ hard try useless, denying all of their attempts.
Their brilliant form led to a 15-10 win and gave them the championship trophy.
With this win, Vietnam will represent Asia at the 2023 FIVB Volleyball Women’s Club World Championship to be held in China in December.
Thuy was voted the best outside hitter and MVP of the tournament while her teammate Nguyen Khanh Dang was the best libero.
Liaoning Donghua took the third place after beating King Whale Taipei 26-24, 25-20, 22-25, 25-21.
The first win in history of Vietnam was a strong push for them ahead of the ongoing 32nd SEA Games in Cambodia. They are in Group B with the Philippines, Singapore and the hosts. The team will defend their second place in the previous Games.
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