Kim Yeon-kyung (35) showed her late-game clutch ability again. Even with her form collapsing, she made two attacks to tie the game and turned around a seemingly losing situation.
Heungkuk Life defeated IBK Sangsan Bank 3-1 (26-24, 15-25, 25-19, 28-26) in straight sets in the first round of the Dodram 2023-2024 V League Women’s Regular Season at Samsan World Gymnasium in Incheon on Thursday.
Riding a three-game winning streak, Heungkuk Life ended the first round atop the standings with a 5-1 record (15 points). IBK, meanwhile, failed to win three straight games and remained in the bottom half of the standings with a 2-4 record (5 points).
For Heungkuk Life, Yelena Mrazenovic led the way with 19 points and Kim Yeon-kyung 17. Kim Mi-yeon chipped in with 11 points, including three service aces, while Reina also contributed nine points. For IBK, Jupo Abecrombie and Pyo Seung-ju combined for 40 points with 20 apiece, but it was not enough for the team.
The deciding set came in the fourth set, when Heungkuk Sinsung’s colors were dark. With both teams’ scoring power exploding past the 20-point mark, IBK had plenty of chances to win. However, while Kim Yeon-kyung was able to score in clutch situations, IBK collapsed with unforced errors and ended the match.
IBK started with Brittany Abercrombie (outside hitter), Lim Hye-rim (middle blocker), Hwang Min-kyung (outside hitter), Fonfoon Gedfard (setter), Choi Jung-min (middle blocker), Pyo Seung-ju (outside hitter), and Shin Yeon-kyung (libero).
Heungkuk Life started with Kim Soo-ji (middle blocker), Kim Mi-yeon (outside hitter), Yelena Mrazenovic (outside hitter), Kim Na-hee (middle blocker), Lee Won-jung (setter), Kim Yeon-kyung (outside hitter), and Do Su-bin (libero).
The center is a concern for both teams. IBK will be without Kim Hyun-jung due to a dislocated finger suffered in the last match. Heungkuk Life is without Lee Ju-ah and Kim Chae-yeon due to injuries. Therefore, Kim Hee-jin and Reina Tokoku are expected to play as surprise cards.
Before the game, IBK head coach Kim Ho-cheol said, “Kim Hyun-jung dislocated her bone, but there is nothing wrong with it and the swelling is mild. I didn’t bring her in today (Thursday) because I thought she would be fine if she rested for two or three more days.” In her place, Lim Hye-rim and Kim Hee-jin will take turns. Kim Hee-jin has been playing as an outside hitter for the last year or two, so it will be awkward for her to play middle blocker after so long. She hasn’t played as a middle blocker in practice, but when I saw her move around, I thought she could do it a little bit, so I planned to use her.” 보스토토 도메인
Head coach Marcello Abondanza added: “We saw in the last match that Reina is a good option. She’s not a middle blocker, but she played an important role, so I’m grateful to her.” “I wouldn’t say she exceeded expectations, but what she did well in training came out in the match, and it was more of a fake light than a full middle blocker. She’s a good offensive player, so it was good to see that part of her play.”