Traditional women’s volleyball powerhouse Hyundai E&C finished the first round of the 2023-2024 V-League in fourth place with three wins, three losses, and 11 points.
Not bad, depending on how you look at it, but Yang Hyo-jin, the team’s spiritual leader, reflected after the GS Caltex game at Jangchung Gymnasium in Seoul on March 3: “It was a crisis, not a crisis.”
Hyundai E&C changed from the second round.
The team added the strength of Leticia Moma Vasoko (real name Moma), who has adapted to being the strongest middle blocker in women’s volleyball, anchored by the “Twin Towers” of Yang Hyo-jin and Lee Da-hyun.
With the 3-0 victory over GS Caltex, Hyundai E&C extended its winning streak to five games, maintaining a 6-1 record in the seven matches it has played since the second round.
Only one point separates second-place Hyundai E&C (9-4, 29 points) from leader Heungkuk Life (11-1, 30 points).
Third-place GS Caltex (8-5, 22 points) is just one point behind, so the battle for the top spot in the women’s regular season has already been condensed into a two-way battle between Heungkuk Life and Hyundai E&C.
For Yang Hyo-jin, the reason for the “poor first round” was lack of time.
With so many players called up to the Hangzhou Asian Games squad, a new foreign attacker, Moma, and two Asian quota players, there wasn’t enough time for the team to gel.
“It was mainly because we wanted to talk, and coach (Kang Sung-hyung) led us well,” said Yang Hyo-jin. “The fact that the coach was also harmed and the atmosphere was created to try to take things one step at a time helped us.”
Hyundai E&C is accustomed to winning more than losing, so the early season slump was an embarrassment for the team, but they overcame the crisis through communication.
“We put each other down a little bit and started to do things step by step, and in the process, each player realized their role,” said Yang Hyo-jin. That was a good thing,” she added.
“In the first round, every team wants to win, and that’s what affected (HEC’s difficult start to the season). Now that we’re in the third round, the players are getting used to each other and the results are coming.”
The day also reaffirmed the depth of HMC’s roster.
The absence of main outside hitter Wipawi Sithong (registered name Wipawi), who was away for a while due to his father’s illness, was not felt.
Kim Joo-hyang, who started in place of Wipawi, and Go Go-ji, who took the court as a substitute, both secured the victory with their stable defense.
Hyundai E&C head coach Kang Sung-hyung said, “I was worried about Kim Joo-hyang because she hadn’t played in a long time, but she did well in serving, defense, and reception, even if her performance wasn’t outstanding. He played a good game.”
Hyundai E&C’s strong power was also recognized by their opponents.
Before the game, GS Caltex head coach Cha Sang-hyun said, “Hyundai E&C is so good that it is safe to say that their main players are the national team. It’s really hard to beat them if you don’t shake up your reception,” he said.
After the 0-3 loss, his fears were realized, “The pressure of the blocker’s height is something that no one who hasn’t played volleyball knows. We were trying to turn the tide in our favor, but the opponent’s blocking broke our mood.” 안전놀이터