The Empress is still thirsty.
Women’s professional volleyball Heungkuk Life suffered a 3-0 (25-20 25-13 25-16) setback against Korea Expressway Corporation in the opening match of the Dodram 2023~2024 V-League at Gimcheon Indoor Gymnasium on Thursday.
The team was out-received 18.6%-44.6%. However, they were out-hit 46.5%-28.7% in team offense. They also committed far fewer errors (13) than their opponent (23).
Outside hitter Kim Yeon-kyung had an Altoran-like performance. She started and played full time, scoring 16 points (53.33% offense). She teamed up with outside hitter Jelena Mrazenovic (real name Jelena) for a double-double. Yelena had a team-high 20 points (53.13% attack percentage), including two blocks and one ace.
After the match, Kim said, “I knew it would be tough because the opening match was away from home. We trained hard and prepared a lot, but I think we didn’t show it all.” “We played the opening match with a question mark, and the result came out well. It’s just the beginning. We will make our volleyball better in the future so that we can continue to grow until the end of the season.”
She was a commentator for the women’s volleyball team at the 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games, which concluded on August 8. She returned home about a week before the start of the season. “I had just returned from China,” Kim said. But I trained quite a bit before leaving the country, and I continued to train with a program in China.” “I’m fine in terms of communication with the players and physical condition. I try to take good care of my body.”
“I don’t have any absences, I’ve been training every day and I’m giving 100%. I’m still working with the setters and receivers,” he added, “and I’m training the same as the younger players.”
Heungkuk Life head coach Marcello Avondanza said of Kim, “As you can see, she has a very good game and jumping power. Even though she has been to the Asian Games, there is no doubt about her performance.”
Abondanza took over at Heungkuk Life in the second half of last season. “It was difficult to come at the end of the season and show the tactics I wanted, so I didn’t change much,” he said after the runners-up finish in the championship, “We need to change our serving, blocking, defense, and connection.” This year, Kim has been in charge of the team from the start after an off-season.
“It’s very different from last season. “Back then, even though the coach would talk about tactics to analyze the opponent and identify their weaknesses, there were some parts that the players couldn’t understand,” she said, adding, “There were situations where we had to execute the volleyball that the coach wanted, but we didn’t have much training time, so we had to execute it right on the court.
“This offseason, we really studied a lot of his volleyball, understanding why we have to play the way we do. “We prepared for a really long time,” he said. “The players have a better understanding. We know exactly what the coach wants us to do and why. It’s like last season and this season are completely, totally different.”
“The players seem more comfortable now. I think we all know what kind of volleyball we need to play,” he said. “There are tactics that keep changing depending on the opponent or the player. We’ve prepared all those things. Now we just have to show them,” she smiled.
Close friend middle blocker Kim Soo-ji left IBK for Heungkuk Life as a free agent in the off-season. It was a big move. “I don’t know if today (Nov. 14) helped or hurt,” Kim joked. Abondanza chose Kim Chae-yeon and Lee Ju-ah as his starting middle blockers. Kim started the second and third sets after coming off the bench in the first set. She recorded one point (33.33% attacking success rate) and five effective blocks, the second most on the team.
“(Kim) Chae-yeon and (Lee) Joo-ah have strengths in offense. I think that’s why they’re starting,” Kim said, adding, “When (Kim) Suzy comes on the court, it definitely improves our blocking height. There are plays that come from experience, which helps a lot.” At the V-League’s opening media day on April 12, Kim Soo-ji said that the most common phrase she hears from Kim Yeon-kyung is “Suzy!” “I don’t know if I’m called that much,” Kim said, “but I think so. I play with it,” she laughed.
The departure of veteran libero Kim Hae-ran, who represents the league, is unfortunate. He is currently rehabilitating his knee. Abondanza is cautiously optimistic that he won’t return this year. According to him, he could return to the court only in the second half of the season.
“We are missing (Kim) Hae-ran, our main player, and (Kim) Da-eun, our wing attacker. It’s a big loss for us to be without them,” said Kim. “They’re the players we need, and it won’t be easy without them. We will probably prepare for their return as soon as possible.” “Libero (Do) Subinyi is doing a good job. She’s been training a lot, so I trust her,” he said of his junior. Do had an 18.75% receiving efficiency and a match-high 22 digs on the day.안전놀이터
Outside hitter Tokoku Reina (registered name Reina), Asia’s only non-American, did not play in the opening match. Kim said, “She is our secret weapon. If she comes out in the next game, she’ll be good. She’s good.”
Heungkuk Life will play an away match against Hyundai E&C in Suwon on April 18. Kim Yeon-kyung said, “It’s another away game. “Suwon has a different court color than other stadiums, so we have to adapt well,” Kim said. “Hyundai E&C also has good reinforcements. They also have an outside hitter in (Asia Quarterfinalist) Wipawi Sithong (registered name Wipawi), so it will be tough. We will be prepared,” he said.
“We still have a lot to show as a team. Hopefully, we can showcase it gradually.”