Park Eun-jin (KGC Ginseng), Lee Ju-ah (Heungkuk Life), Jung Ho-young (KGC Ginseng) and Lee Da-hyun (Hyundai E&C), born in 1999, will compete in international competitions at the same time. They have been dubbed the next generation of Korean women’s volleyball’s middle blockers.
The FIVB Volleyball Nations League (VNL) will kick off in 2023. After nearly a month of domestic training, the Korean women’s national team travelled to Antalya, Turkey, on 22 April for the VNL Week 1 match. Head coach Cesar, who was away on a club assignment, joined the team on site in Turkuye.
The team is now without veteran middle blockers Kim Soo-ji and Yang Hyo-jin. They left the national team after the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. Park Eun-jin, Lee Ju-ah, Jung Ho-young, and Lee Da-hyun will compete for the two starting middle blocker spots.토토사이트
Lee Da-hyun and Lee Ju-ah saw plenty of playing time at last year’s international tournament. Jung Ho-young switched from outside hitter to middle blocker after her professional debut, reaching the Taekwondo mark and showing a steep rise with her height and excellent attacking skills. However, Jung suffered an ankle injury at the end of last year’s VNL and was no longer with the national team.
Park Eun-jin also suffered an ankle injury during the 2021-22 season. After failing to make the final roster for last year’s VNL, she was named to the national team ahead of the World Championships in September, but fought back tears when she injured her ankle during a practice match.
Again, four middle blockers wore the tricolour side by side. Aiming for ‘win-win’ through goodwill competition
“In my team, if I need to fix something, (Yang) Hyo-jin tells me. We have that advantage. On the national team, we ask each other questions and get advice, and it’s a win-win situation. We tell each other what we’re lacking.”
In the previous V-League, Jung Ho-young, Lee Ju-ah and Lee Da-hyun were among the top 10 blockers, while Lee Ju-ah, Lee Da-hyun and Park Eun-jin were among the top 10 mobile attackers. Lee also ranked ninth in the league in serving. These are four players with distinct strengths in the same position.
Historically, Korean women”s volleyball has been dominated by outside hitters. This changed after the Tokyo Olympics. Like Japan’s women’s volleyball team, they used three outside hitters at the same time and deliberately tried to move the middle blocker frequently to get past the opponent’s blocking. This year, the team is also focusing on attacking from behind.
As a result, the role of the middle blocker has become more important than before. Park Eun-jin, Lee Ju-ah, Jung Ho-young, and Lee Da-hyun will follow in the footsteps of Choi Ji-yeon (retired), Jung Dae-young (GS Caltex), Kim Soo-ji (Heungkuk Life), and Yang Hyo-jin (Hyundai E&C) in the Korean women’s volleyball middle blocker lineage. Expectations are high for the ‘young blood’ quartet.
“Last year, we lost a lot and lost a lot of ranking points,” Lee said ahead of the VNL. The players also lost confidence, but this year, I feel that we have improved from the preparation process.” “We can’t keep up with foreign players in terms of height and power. We have to compete with speed like other Asian countries. That’s the only way to survive. If you have the same high ball and they have two or three blockers behind you, you can’t break through, and even if you go to five sets and lose, you still have ranking points in each set, so the goal is to limit your losses. It is important to build a foundation in the VNL so that we can do well in the Olympic Qualifiers this year.”
South Korea, currently ranked 23rd in the FIVB World Rankings, will finish Week 1 of the VNL against Canada (7th)-Turkey (14th)-USA (4th)-Thailand (15th) before travelling to Brazil for Week 2 against Brazil (3rd)-Japan (6th)-Croatia (27th)-Germany (13th). Week 3 will take place in Suwon, South Korea. They will face Bulgaria (16th), Dominican Republic (9th), China (5th) and Poland (10th). Of their VNL opponents, only Croatia are ranked lower than South Korea. They are determined to rack up as many wins as possible to erase last year’s 12-match losing streak.