Seven players to watch out for in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games
Thailand setter Nootsara Tomkom and middle blocker Pleumjit Thinkaow
The regional multi-sport event presents a talented crop of players that will showcase their talents to a worldwide audience, and presents seasoned players an opportunity to cement their legacies.
As one of the most followed events in the SEA Games, we take a look at seven players who could stand out in women’s volleyball.
Pleumjit Thinkaow (THA)
Pleumjit Thinkaow is arguably the most seasoned player in the Thai women’s team with a playing career spanning over two decades. She is considered by the Thai fans as a role model and hero, who has built a lasting legacy for the sport in her country.
The middle blocker helped her team achieve its best finish at world level - a fourth-place at the FIVB Volleyball World Grand Prix in 2012. Her impeccable timing in block make her a key player in Thailand's successful campaigns at the Asian level with two Asian Championship titles in 2009 and 2013 and a runners-up finish at the Asian Games in 2018.
The 36-year-old hopes that Thailand's performance in the SEAG will help them prepare for their campaign to qualify for the Olympic Games for the first time, when they compete against other Asian teams in the Continental Olympic Qualification Tournament in Nakhon Ratchasima in Thailand in January.
Nootsara Tomkom (THA)
Thailand’s Nootsara Tomkom has established a name for herself as one of the world’s best setters and is among the best Asian volleyball players. Among her special skills is her astonishing playmaking and connection to her spikers, and likewise her ability to act as mentor to the younger Thai players.
Nootsara has a great personality which makes her the darling of the Thai crowd and she carries an undeniable creativity in her setting and the plays she crafts for her teammates.
The Ratchaburi native pursued playing volleyball, following in the footsteps of her sister, whom she idolised when she was young. She has played all positions but a coach recognised her true calling of playing the setter position. She soon became a mainstay of the national team which helped her gain recognition from international club teams.
Amalia Nabila (INA)
Amalia Fajrina Nabila became a member of the Indonesian women’s senior team pool at age 13 and was her country’s volleyball prodigy, with skills that kids her age rarely possess. In 2013, Indonesia won the bronze medal at the Southeast Asian Games in Bangkok but Amalia was not included in the final roster. In the next edition, 15-year-old Amalia claimed her first SEA Games bronze in Laos and soon after helped her team claim consistent bronze medal finishes in the succeeding editions.
The 25-year-old packs a lot of firepower from the three-metre line and brings a lot of consistency on offence for her team. She remains a key player and her presence at the 2019 SEA Games will be important if her team are to win another medal this year.
Tran Thi Thanh Thuy (VIE)
Vietnam’s Tran Thi Thanh Thuy is a triple threat – she is experienced, tall and powerful. At age 22, she is one of the most promising players to come from the Vietnamese volleyball programme and among her accomplishments are her stints playing in clubs in Thailand, Chinese Taipei and Japan, making her one of the experienced players in the team.
She stands 193cm-tall and her spike reach make her a prolific hitter and a big threat to her blockers. Her great approach and form on the attack get her the momentum she needs to make a powerful and unstoppable spike that piles up the points for her team.
The Vietnamese athlete hopes to improve her team’s bronze medal finish at the SEA Games in Singapore in 2017 and will be a force to reckon with - a sure-fire source of energy that will boost her team’s chances at this year’s edition.
Alyssa Valdez (PHI)
Alyssa Valdez is undeniably the most prominent player in the Philippines’ volleyball roster. Her high-leaping ability and her powerful swing make her the team’s go-to hitter and top scorer in international competitions.
Valdez was a standout player at the collegiate level, where she helped her university claim multiple championship titles as well as countless individual honours. She also played in Thailand and Chinese Taipei at the club level and has represented the Philippines in many international tournaments like the World Championship Qualification Tournament, Asian Championship, Asian Games and the Southeast Asian Games.
She has a huge following and her fans are one of the reasons why Philippine volleyball is so vibrant – cheering for Alyssa and for the national team – whether they are in or outside the Philippines. The SEA Games will be another great experience as she plays on home soil with her fans rallying to support her and the team to win their first medal since finishing in third place in the 2005 SEA Games.
Mary Joy Baron (PHI)
At 23 years old, Mary Joy Baron is a player to watch out for in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games as she dons the sun and three stars on her chest. Prior to the SEA Games, Majoy, as she is fondly called, earned the nod as a future international star as she was named Best Middle Blocker in the 2019 ASEAN Grand Prix in Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand and in Manila, Philippines.
The tall and lanky Majoy was scouted and invited to try out for one of the best universities in her country. She then went on to have a decorated college and professional volleyball career.
While being a blocker, Majoy has also walked the runways of top fashion designers in the country as a ramp model during her free time. Whether on the court or on the runway, Majoy Baron is a star waiting to happen.
Maddie Madayag (PHI)
Maddie Madayag is an up-and-coming star of the Philippine team. She joined the team this year and made an impressive debut, helping her teammates gain two bronze medal victories in the ASEAN Grand Prix tournaments in Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand and in Manila, Philippines.
The young, talented middle blocker provides the team with well-balanced offence and defence. Whether she’s starting or coming off the bench, Madayag adapts easily to each new system on the court.
Follow the competition on the Philippines 2019 Southeast Asian Games website.
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