Formidable Sport Center I made history by becoming the first Vietnamese team to win the Asian Women’s Club Volleyball Championship with an epic 3-2 comeback victory against Thailand’s Diamond Food Fine Chef in the final showdown of the 2023 edition on Tuesday.
The dramatic 21-25, 17-25, 25-20, 25-22, 15-10 result, accompanied by a remarkable unbeaten record in the continent’s top-flight club championship, ended Vietnam’s gold-medal drought for 22 years since the nation made a debut in the 2001 tourney as the host country.
Both teams fielded many national players at the packed 3,000-seater Vinh Phuc Indoor Stadium in the namesake Vietnamese province in their final preparation for next week’s 2023 Southeast Asian Games in Cambodia.
Diamond Food Fine Chef mixed powerful attacks from Wipawee Srithong and Sasipaporn Janthawisut with intensified blocks by Natasa Cikiriz and Thichakorn Boonlert for a convincing victory in the first two sets at 25-21 and 25-17.
However, things turned sour for the Thai team in the third set even though they took an early lead with a three-point advantage at 11-8, after which Sport Center I gradually improved and rallied with impressive attacks to tie the score at 16-16 before pulling away 21-17.
|Vietnam Sport Center I players block an attack from Thailand’s Diamond Food Fine Chef in their final showdown at the 2023 Asian Women’s Club Volleyball Championship in Vinh Phuc Province, Vietnam, May 2, 2023. Photo: Asian Volleyball Confederation|
The Vietnamese side continued to play well with their consistency and confidence, foiling all Diamond Food Fine Chef attempts to fight back, and they took the third set 25-20.
Sport Center I then displayed their immense vigor, persevered, and eventually won the fourth set 25-22, leading to a decisive tiebreaker.
In the final set, the two teams fought neck and neck with both sides leveling at 7-7.
Sport Center I then took a commanding 13-9 lead and their brilliant form denied the Thai representative's efforts to catch up.
At 14-10, Dinh Thi Tra Giang’s thundering spike secured the Vietnamese team the match point and the championship.
The victory qualified Sport Center I for the 2023 FIVB Volleyball Women’s Club World Championship, which is scheduled for December 11 to 17 in China.
For Diamond Food Fine Chef, the silver medal is a better achievement compared to the previous competition in Kazakhstan, where they finished in third with a bronze medal.