Korean Air, Heungkuk Life share ‘shutout’ victory in pro volleyball opener

Defending men’s professional volleyball champions Korean Air, looking to make it four in a row this season, swept Hyundai Capital in their season opener.

The Korean Air men’s volleyball team was able to diversify its attack to overwhelm its opponents despite the absence of outside hitter Jeong Ji-seok and middle blocker Kim Min-jae due to injury.

Korean Air defeated Hyundai Capital in straight sets 3-0 (27-25 25-22 25-23) in their Dodram 2023-2024 V-League home match at Gyeyang Gymnasium in Incheon on Thursday.

Korean Air got off to a flying start by winning the opening match for the fifth consecutive season.

Korean Air, which swept Hyundai Capital in the third round of the championship on 3 April to win the 2022-2023 season, was back in action after 194 days.

The two teams, who battled to the death in last season’s championship match, battled to a deuce in the first set of the new season opener.

Korean Air was down 17-20 before two consecutive points from Lincoln Williams (registered name Lincoln) and a Kim Gyu-min kill tied the set.

At 25-25, a Lincoln kill gave Korean Air set point, but Jeong Jung-yong blocked an Ahmed Iqbairi (registered name Ahmed) attack to end the first set.

Lincoln scored 10 points in the first set, with six of them coming after the 17th point of the set.

Korean Air started the second set with four straight points to take control.

Korean Air setter Han distributed the ball to Jung Jeong-yong and Kim Kyu-min in the second set and made it look easy.

Lincoln, who had been quiet throughout the second set, scored the decisive point at 21-19 with an exquisite fake push attack that hit the diagonal empty spot on the Hyundai Capital court.

Korean Air went on to close out the second set with relative ease, winning 25-22 after exchanging points without a break from the midway point of the set when they led 15-13.

Korean Air continued the momentum from the first two sets to close out the match in the third.

At 3-4, a quick opener from Kwak Seung-seok gave the Korean Air team the lead, and they scored seven straight points on Kwak’s serve to turn the tide of the match once and for all.

Lincoln led the way with a team-high 19 points, while Jung Jung-yong, who replaced Jeong Ji-seok, added 12 points and a 76.92 per cent attack percentage.

Kim Gyu-min completed the trio with 10 points, including four blocked shots.

Ahmed led both teams with 30 points, but Hyundai Capital struggled with a monotonous offence that focused on Ahmed.

National apogee spiker Heo Soo-bong, who started the opening game as a middle blocker in the wake of Ahmed’s arrival, was not at his best with 10 points.

Middle blocker Cai Peiqiang (registered name Peiqiang), who joined Hyundai Capital as an Asian quota player and started in the starting line-up, had a successful debut with seven points.

In the women’s opening match at Gimcheon Gymnasium, Heungkuk Life swept home team Korea Expressway Corporation in straight sets 3-0 (25-20 25-13 25-16).

Heungkuk Life topped the regular season last season and won the first two games of the championship (best-of-five series), but lost three games to Korea Expressway Corporation to finish as runners-up.

After sharpening their knives throughout the off-season, Heungkuk Life overwhelmed Doosan in the opening match of the new season and secured a shutout (3-0) victory.

Heungkuk Life took the lead in the first set at 16-16 when Kim Yeon-kyung scored two consecutive points.

Even with the score at 20-18, Kim took a toss from Lee Won-jung and scored on a back row attack to set the tone.

Heungkuk Life closed out the first set at 23-20 thanks to a quick open attack from Kim Yeon-kyung and a block from Lee Won-jung, who blocked an attack from Tanacha Suk-sot (registered name Tanacha).

The second set was a close to double-digit victory for Heungkuk Life, who held DOT to just 13 points and easily took the third set 25-16.

Heungkuk Life was led by Yelena Mrazenovic (registered name Yelena) with a team-high 20 points, while Kim Yeon-kyung also added 16 points, with 36 points coming from the two players alone.

In terms of turnovers, Heungkuk Life had 13 and DOT had 23.

Roadworks did not live up to expectations with new foreign player Vanya Vukiric (registered name Vukiric) scoring 12 points, shooting 30.56 per cent from the field and committing 10 errors.

Asian-qualified player Tanacha also needed more time to settle in with six points and a 22.22 per cent attack percentage.

Most importantly, the Roadrunners were unable to fill the void left by star setter Lee Yoon-jung, who went down with a knee injury just before the start of the tournament.

Park Eun-ji, the only other setter on the roster, took charge of the match on her own and served two aces, but was given the task of coordinating with her attackers. 스포츠토토

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