Vietnamese players and coaches pose for photos after their tough and unexpected win over South Korea in the first match of the Asian Women's Volleyball Championship on August 30 in Thailand. Photos of AVC

Việt Nam came from two-sets down to beat the stronger South Koreans 3-2 in their hard-fought five-set thriller at f the 22nd Asian Senior Women’s Volleyball Championship on August 30 in Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand.

World No 35 South Korea, who were bronze medallists at the previous edition in 2019 on home soil, are seeking an unprecedented Asian title this time.

Their campaign started well, but turned out disappointing after they succumbed to first defeat at the hands of the AVC Challenge Cup winners Việt Nam, going down 22-25, 19-25, 25-23, 25-17, 15-13 at the 5,000-seater Chartchai Hall.

Both sides came up with almost the same defensive tactics in the opening set which levelled at 22-22. South Korea  scored three points in a row to win 25-22.

The Koreans continued their remarkable run in the second set, capturing the lead 21-19 and went on to score four straight points to win 25-19.

World No 48 Việt Nam poured everything they had in the must-win third set. Two sides played a seesaw battle until it was 23-23 before Việt Nam cruised on to win the hotly-contested set 25-23.

Winning one set boosted their confidence and the Vietnamese still relied on their impeccable defence and exceptional attacks from captain Trần Thị Thanh Thúy.

Việt Nam ran fast to lead by six-points at 22-16. They eventually won the set 25-17, forcing the match to be decided by a tie-breaker.

Captain Trần Thị Thanh Thúy (No 3) in an attack against South Korea. Thúy recorded 25 points from 20 attacks and five blocks.

South Korea regrouped to lead 6-3 in the decider. But the Vietnamese gradually caught up with the rivals at 6-6 before widening the gap to 11-8. 

South Korea gave their best, but their efforts were to no avail as the Vietnamese continued their brilliance to win the decider 15-13, with star spiker Thúy handing Việt Nam the crucial last point of the set and match.

“It’s so surprising to win this match as we all knew that South Korea are very strong with good serves. This is our first time ever that we beat the Koreans," said Thúy.

"I admit that we had difficulty on reception. I feel very thankful to all my teammates. Sometimes, we faced difficult situations, but we helped each other. We fought together and we are now happy together with the results we had made."

Coach Nguyễn Tuấn Kiệt added: "This was a very difficult match, giving me heart attacks until the last minutes. It is happy for the win and also tired like I was a player of the match.

"In this match, we play mainly by spirit as our physical strength was reduced due to our busy schedule this year. 

"The poor fitness affects excitement and technical precision but we did more than our 100 per cent and also luck was on our side too."

After the first matches of Group C, Việt Nam stay in second place behind Chinese Taipei who beat Uzbekistan 3-0.

In the next fixture, Việt Nam will face Uzbekistan on August 31 and Taipei a day later, both are lower than Việt Nam in the world rankings.

"In theory, a win over South Korea will help us to have top place in this group. However, the Asian competition is tough and we can not look down any rivals. We want to win all two matches," said Kiệt. VNS