‘World No. 13’ Thailand women’s volleyball has 8 foreigners among 12 AGs
October 4, 2023 | by bookmeforphotographers.com
Eight of the 12 members of the Thai women’s volleyball team’s final roster for the Hangzhou Asian Games are overseas.
Thailand, ranked 13th in the world by FIVB, is currently competing at the Asian Games in Hangzhou, China, where they have advanced to the quarterfinal round after a strong group stage. After topping Pool B, the Thais will join Japan, Chinese Taipei, and Kazakhstan in Pool F of the quarterfinal round for a spot in the semifinals.
Thailand women’s volleyball’s best finish at the Asian Games was second place in 2018. This year’s Asian Championships is their first in a decade and they will be looking to win their first ever gold medal at an Asian Games. With Japan coming into the tournament with second-tier players, home team China is the favorite to win the title.
Eight of Thailand’s 12 women’s volleyball players at the Asian Games are overseas. Five will be playing in the Japanese V.League and three in the Korean V-League 굿모닝토토.
First up are Thailand’s starting outside hitters Chatchuon Moksri and Acharaphorn Kongyot, who will be playing for Victory, Himeji, and NEC Red Rockets, respectively. Born in 1999, the 6-foot-5 Chatchuon made his first overseas stint in Japan in 2018 and spent two years with Turkkiye Saryer alongside Acharapon in 2021. After a five-year absence, he is back playing in the Japanese V.League. However, Victorina Himeji was relegated to the second division this year. Acharaphon, a 5-foot-9 outside hitter born in 1995, spent two seasons with Turkkiye in 2021 after moving to Indonesia in 2018, and will start a new challenge in Japan in 2023-24.
Thai middle blockers have also been active overseas. 1994-born 185-centimeter Tadao Nukjang wore a JT Marvels jersey in Japan from the 2020-21 season, but this year he moved to Hitachi Astemo Rivale for a fresh start. Another veteran middle blocker, Hataya Bamrulsuk, will also continue his career in Japan. The 1993-born, 180-centimeter middle blocker re-signed with Toyota Auto Body Queens, where she has played since 2021.
Thailand’s Pimpichaya Kokram, a 1998-born 180-centimeter outside hitter, will return for a third season with the Kurobe Aqua Fairies of Japan’s V.League First Division.
Following Japan’s lead, the Korean V-League also introduced an Asian quarter this year and has managed to recruit three Thai internationals. Thailand’s starting setter Ponpun Gedpard was drafted first overall by IBK, while outside hitter Wipai Sittong is set to make his V-League debut for Hyundai E&C. Tanacha Sooksut, who has been competing with Pimpichaya for the Apojit, will take on a new challenge after being drafted by defending champions Korea Expressway Corporation.
In Asia, Thailand, Kazakhstan (32nd), Vietnam (39th) and South Korea (40th) are ranked after world No. 6 China and No. 9 Japan. There is also a lot of interest in Thai players in the Asia Quarterfinals.