Cambodia’s para sitting volleyball squad put in a fine performance this week at the ongoing 2018 Sitting Volleyball World Championship qualifiers in Jeju, South Korea. Despite sensationally outclassing Italy to win their opener, bac-to-back defeats to South Korea and Latvia left Cambodia unable to progress to the competition proper later this year.
Cambodia faced Latvia in their final group match at Sarabong Multi-Gym yesterday morning for their third Group A match.
In what was billed as an even contest, Cambodia went ahead at 8-6 in the first technical time out, although trailing at 12-8, Latvia called a time out before tying the first set at 14-all. Despite the Latvians breathing down their necks, Cambodia again managed to go ahead to take the first set 25-18.
In set two, Cambodia lead by a mere point 8-7 at the first technical time out, before pulling ahead to 11-8 as Latvia called a time out. The set continued as a see-saw affair before Latvia edged away and took the set 22-25.
The third set once again saw Cambodia leading from the start, although Latvia hit their stride to lead 15-10 before Cambodia called a time out. However, Latvia were unperturbed as they continued their assault on the Cambodians to seal the set 25-17.
In an exciting fourth set, the teams exchanged the lead back and forth until Latvia managed to string together two points to take the set 28-26 and the match 3-1. The loss, their second in three games, left Cambodia unable to qualify for the World Championships later this year.
Cambodia had been among the first teams on court in the tournament opener on Monday where they took on and defeated Italy 3-0. Cambodia impressed early on, taking the lead at the first technical time out to close out the set convincingly at 25-11.
In set two, the Cambodian contingent fought back from 16-13 behind at the second technical time out. They soon closed the gap and eclipsed the Italians before calling a timeout at 19-22. After Italy in turn called two time outs, Cambodia dug in their nails to close out the set 26-24.
The third set was routine for Cambodia’s athletes as they began strongly to take an 8-4 at the first technical time out. They proceeded to extend their lead throughout the set to win 25-15, and the match 3-0. A remarkable achievement against their stronger European counterparts.
On Wednesday, it was a disappointing outcome as an out-of-sorts Cambodia fell 3-0 to hosts South Korea.
Cambodian athlete Mon Yarath apologised to his supporters for the squads failure to progress in Korea. “We are doing our best and today we are sorry that this is a painful experience of us, he said. “We will try to train more techniques and strength to succeed in the future,” he added.
Despite the recent defeat,the kingdom’s sitting volleyball athletes have shown great improvements in recent years. The National Olympic Committee of Cambodia has made improving the nations chances for the Phnom Penh 2023 SEA Games and Asean Para games a priority. They returned from last September’s 9th Asean Para Games in Kuala Lumpur with a coveted silver medal.
Sitting volleyball is similar to its stand-up version but with a number of key adaptations.
It is played from a lower net, while court dimensions are also smaller. The main difference between the two is that in sitting volleyball, rules dictate that the athlete’s pelvis must always be in contact with the ground.
The 2018 World Championships will take place between July 15 and 22 in the Netherlands, with the world’s 16 best male and female teams competing. Bosnia & Herzegovina are the defending champions among the men, while China are hoping to hold on to their 2014 title.