Setter Pornpun Guedpard is one of the faces of the Thai team built over the last few years

Guaranteed in the top eight of the Volleyball Nations League 2024 as the host country of the Finals, Thailand will have an excellent opportunity to post their best result in the tournament this year.

While they could use the Preliminary Phase to prepare the team ahead of the Finals in Bangkok, the Asians are still involved in the race to qualify for the Paris 2024 Olympics and will try to get good results in the first weeks of action to keep their dream alive.

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Here are important things to know about Thailand for the VNL 2024:

The background

This season will mark just the second time that Thailand appears in the VNL Finals as they qualified in 2022, but lost in the quarterfinals, finishing eighth. In the other four editions, the Thais finished within the same range, ranking 12th in 2019, 14th in 2023, 15th in 2018 and 16th in 2021.

The squad

Thailand had to rebuild their team following the international retirement of the country’s legendary ‘Fab Five’ at the VNL 2021 and they were able to establish an interesting core over the last three years. Pornpun Guedpard has emerged as the team’s starting setter and pulls the strings of the team’s offense. The scoring efforts are split between opposite Pimpichaya Kokram and outside hitters Ajcharaporn Kongyot and Chatchu-On Moksri, who was the MVP in their victory at the Asian Championship in 2023. Hattaya Bamrungsuk and captain Thatdao Nuekjang have been steady presences in the middle while Piyanut Pannoy established herself at libero.

Player to watch

Wipawee Srithong has a difficult task in hand fighting for a starting spot with Ajcharaporn and Chatchu-On at outside hitter, but she has shown on some occasions that she’ll be ready to help when the team needs her. A very technical player, Wipawee can score against some of the top teams in the world despite standing at just 1.74m as she showed with an 18-point performance against Canada in the VNL 2023 and the same output against Poland in the Volleyball Olympic Qualifier.

The coach

Thailand have a new coach in 2024 as Nataphon Srisamutnak was hired to replace Danai Sriwatcharamethakul, who resigned at the end of last season. A former setter of the Thai men’s national team team, Nataphon had a brief stint ahead of the team in 2014, helping them take bronze at the Asian Games. He has been an assistant with the team between 2003 and 2019, having also worked with age-group national teams. More recently, he was an assistant with the country’s men’s senior team. Nataphon has longtime national team player Wilavan Apinyapong as one of his assistants.

Nataphon Srisamutnak

After serving several years as an assistant, Nataphon was selected to lead Thailand in 2024

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The match schedule

Thailand will start the VNL 2024 very far from home, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and their opening match will be on May 15, against Olympic champions the United States. Their second duel won’t be any easier, as they will meet world champions Serbia before facing Canada and Korea. Their campaign will continue in Asia, with matches against the Dominican Republic, France, China and Brazil set to take place in Macao on week two. The Preliminary Phase will come to an end for the Thais in Hong Kong, where they are scheduled to play against defending champions Türkiye, Bulgaria, Poland and Germany.

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