SEA Games: Cambodia made history in the men’s semifinals of volleyball

Cambodian volleyball player Pin Sarun (left) tries to spike on the wall of Filipino players during their indoor volleyball match in Group B of the 31st SEA Games in Vietnam on Sunday.  Nom Pen Post via ANN

Cambodian volleyball player Pin Sarun (left) tries to spike on the wall of Filipino players during their indoor volleyball match in Group B of the 31st SEA Games in Vietnam on Sunday. Nom Pen Post via ANN

The Cambodian men’s national volleyball team set a new record by advancing to the volleyball semifinals of the 31st Southeast Asian Games for the first time since 1983.

Cambodia’s date was confirmed with luck in the quarter-finals when eight-time champions Thailand recorded game wins 25-20, 29-27, 25-22 on Monday and sealed the fate of the Philippines as the weakest team in the men’s Group B, three teams.

The victory means the Cambodian and Thai volleyball teams are already safe to advance to the knockout stage before the two teams meet for first and second place in the group on May 18.

“This is a historic result and our best record since we started competing in the SEA Games 39 years ago,” Cambodia Volleyball Federation Secretary-General Aing Sere Piseth told the Post after the team’s place in the semifinals was confirmed.

“Over the last two or three years, our team has grown and improved significantly. We focused on regular training and completed a two-year training camp before entering this year’s Games. I think other ASEAN countries were concerned about our newly-discovered strength after we defeated the 2019 silver medalist Philippines on the opening day, “he added.

The Cambodian volleyball team has never qualified from the group stage of the SEA Games, but proved its worth by beating the Philippines 25-21, 24-26, 30-28, 29-27 in the opening match last weekend.

The result came as a surprise to Cambodian fans as the Cambodians lost in straight sets at the 2019 Games in the Philippine capital Manila.

“This time, the leadership team of the Volleyball Federation and I – as well as the players of the indoor and beach volleyball teams – are determined to go to the 31st game and win a medal. We are not here just to gain experience because there has been enough discussion over the years. We are confident of finding the medal this year, and that remains our goal, “added Seri Piseth.

Monday’s result was also a revenge for the Thais as they lost a five-setter to Filipinos in the 2019 Games, before moving on to nine-time champions Indonesia in the Philippine final.

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