Defending men’s volleyball champions Korean Air are continuing their winning ways in the off-season.
Korean Air defeated the Panasonic Panthers 3-2 (27-25 17-25 25-23 20-25 15-12) in an exhibition match at 카지노 Panasonic Arena in Osaka, Japan, on Wednesday.
Korean Air is missing six players from its 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games squad: setter Han, middle blockers Kim Gyu-min and Kim Min-jae, and outside hitters Jeong Jung-seok and Jeong Jung-yong. The same was true for Panasonic. Six players, including captain Akihiro Yamauchi, Yuji Nishida and Tomohiro Yamamoto, were called up to the national team for the Paris 2024 Olympic qualifiers.
Both teams fielded similar lineups to the 2023 Gumi & Dodram Cup professional volleyball tournament in August. At that tournament, Korean Air and overseas invitee Panasonic both made a strong showing, reaching the semifinals. They didn’t make it to the final. The difference was that Korean Air had Lincoln Williams and Mark Espejo in the lineup for this practice match.
Espejo switched between an apogee spiker and an outside hitter for a team-high 20 points. Espejo was especially effective on serve. In the first set, she was able to turn the tide with back-to-back service aces to turn the match around. He had three service aces in the match, breaking down Panasonic’s reception.
Outside hitter Kwak Seung-seok had 14 kills and middle blocker Lee Soo-hwang had 10 kills to lead three players in double figures.
For Panasonic, outside hitter Tarumi Yuga led the way with 20 points. She played a pure game with an offensive success rate of 76% and an offensive efficiency of 72%. She was also a consistent contributor on the receiving end.
Apogee spiker Kunihiro Shimizu added 15 points, while outside hitter Takahiro Imamura and middle blocker Yasunari Godama were evenly matched with 11 points each.
Korean Air and Panasonic will play their second practice game on Nov. 13. Korean Air will return to Korea on the 14th and will continue its exchange with overseas teams with a practice match against the Finnish National Men‘s Volleyball Team from the 22nd to the 28th.