SEA Games: Cambodia makes history in volleyball with men’s semis stint
The Cambodia men’s national volleyball team set a new record by advancing to the 31st Southeast Asian Games volleyball semifinals for the first time since 1983.
Cambodia’s date with destiny in the quarterfinals was confirmed when eight-time champions Thailand recorded a 25-20, 29-27, 25-22 victory on Monday and sealed the fate of the Philippines as the weakest team in men’s Group B, which has just three teams.
The victory means the Cambodian and Thai volleyball teams are already safe to advance to the knockout stages even before the two teams meet to decide first and second place in the group on May 18.
“This is a historic result and our best record since we began competing in the SEA Games 39 years ago,” Aing Serey Piseth, secretary-general of the Volleyball Federation of Cambodia, told The Post after the team’s place in the semis was confirmed.
“In the last two or three years, our team has grown and improved significantly. We have focused on regular training and completed a two-year training camp before entering this year’s games. I think the other ASEAN countries were concerned about our new-found strength after we beat 2019 silver medalists the Philippines on the opening day,” he added.
The Cambodian volleyball team had never qualified from the group stages of the SEA Games, but proved its mettle by defeating the Philippines in the opening match last weekend 25-21, 24-26, 30-28, 29-27.
This result surprised fans in Cambodia, since the Cambodians lost to host Philippines in straight sets at the 2019 games in its capital Manila.
“This time around, the leadership group of the Volleyball Federation and I – as well as the players in the indoor and beach volleyball teams – were determined to go to the 31st games and take a medal. We aren’t just here to gain experience as there has been enough talk of that over the years. This year we are confident of finding medals, and this remains our goal,” Sery Piseth added.
Monday’s result was also a revenge for the Thais as they lost a five setter to the Filipinos at the 2019 games, before the Philippines went on to go down to nine-time champions Indonesia in the final.