There are some welcome additions to the 14-player roster for the Thailand Women’s National Team as they travel to Turkiye in Week 1 of the FIVB Volleyball Nations League (VNL) 2023. Setter Ponpoon Gedpard (IBK), outside hitter 안전놀이터 Wipai Sittong (Hyundai E&C), and outside hitter Apojit Thanacha (Korea Expressway Corporation), who will be playing in Korea in the Asian quarterfinals of this year’s V-League.
Thailand, ranked No. 15 in the FIVB World Rankings, will open Week 1 of the VNL in Antalya, Turkey, alongside Korea. The Thais will face Italy, Canada, Poland, and South Korea.
The 14-player roster for Week 1 was also released today. The Thais have retained key players from last year’s squad, including starting setter Ponpun, outside hitters Chatchuon Moksri, Acharaporn Kongyot, Apojit Pimpichaya Kokram, middle blocker Thadao Nukjang, and libero and captain Piyanut Panoy.
Also returning are defensive specialists Wipai and Tanacha. Tanacha was also a backup attacker for Pimpichaya last year.
Setter Sirima Manakit, middle blockers Chitaporn Kamrangmak, Hataya Bamrungsuk and Jarasapon Bundasak, outside hitter Sasipapon Jantawisut and libero Supatra Pyaroj will also travel to Turkuye.
After Thailand missed out on qualifying for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, veteran players retired, and the country has seen a generational shift. Ponpun, who was overshadowed by Nussara Tomkom, and experienced captain Piyanut lead the way. The strikers have grown more mature after experiencing overseas leagues such as Japan and Turkkiye. They emerged as a dark horse last year, using their speed to their advantage with a solid organization like Japan.
Thailand traveled to Turkuye on the 27th for the Week 1 schedule.
However, Ponpun’s fitness will be a factor. Ponpun, who previously played in the Indonesian and Japanese leagues, spent the 2022-23 season with Romanian side Rapid Bucharest. The Thai national team then traveled to the 2023 Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games) in early May, but Ponpun was forced to sit out due to injury. The VNL roster is rounded out by setters Sirima and Soraya Pomra.
According to Thai outlet Thairath, Ponpun said, “I’ve been able to identify the symptoms and rehabilitate well, so I’m feeling 100% now. I’m just worried about my fitness,” he said, adding, “I don’t know which players are coming to Turkiye yet, but I’m ready to face them. If we play our game correctly and are not afraid, we have a chance to win.”
Captain Piyanut added: “We have new setters and attackers. We need time to adapt. We have some adjustments to make within the team.” “All the teams in the VNL are difficult. We don’t want to underestimate any of them,” he said.
Meanwhile, South Korea and Thailand will face off on June 4 at 8 p.m. KST.