Back on the starting line.
The women’s national team, led by head coach César Hernández González, traveled to Turkuye on Nov. 22 to play week one of the 2023 FIVB Volleyball Nations League (VNL).
The national team is currently in the midst of a generational transition. After the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, “Volleyball Empress” Kim Yeon-kyung (Heungkuk Life), middle blocker Kim Soo-ji (Heungkuk Life), and outside hitter Yang Hyo-jin (Hyundai E&C) hung up their caps. With a weakened roster, the team suffered a ’12-game sweep’ at last year’s VNL. At the World Championship, the team realized the high barriers of the generational stage with an early exit in the first round.
It was time to quench their thirst. The team moved into the Jincheon Athletes’ Village on March 24 and has been sweating it out for about a month. There are many differences from last year. In place of Cesar, who was unable to lead the training due to his coaching duties with Bakifbank (Turkiye), Han Yumi, a former KBSN sports commentator, served as the coach. Kim Yeon-kyung joined the national team as an advisor, not a player, to help with the details.
Captain Park Jung-ah said, “When Yeon-kyung comes to the athletes’ village, she hits the ball and trains with us. She has a lot of information about players she doesn’t know, so she talks to them about hitting courses, etc. The players are getting a lot of help from her.”
There are also quite a few new faces. Outside hitters Kim Da-eun and Kim Mi-yeon (Heungkuk Life) have been called up, while newcomer Moon Ji-yoon (GS Caltex) has been added as an outside hitter. In the setter position, Kim Ji-won (GS Caltex) earned her first adult taegeuk, while the liberos were joined by Moon Jung-won (Korea Expressway Corporation) and Shin Yeon-kyung (IBK).
Korea is determined to capitalize on its speed. Their first opponent in Week 1 will be Turkiye. The team is ranked 7th in the FIVB rankings, which is a step above Korea (23rd). They have good height and power. We will have to play up-tempo to win.안전놀이터
The players’ mindset is solid. They are determined to erase the shame of last year. Park said, “We had a bad showing at the international tournament last year, but we will continue to improve. I want to get better and better every day this year. I’m working hard, so please support me,” Park said encouragingly.
A coach said, “I think we are preparing better than last year. The ultimate goal is to be better than last year. Personally, I hope to win at least one game in the first week of the VNL.”
Week 1 of the VNL will be held from May 30 to June 4 in Antalya, Turkiye. Korea will face Canada (14th in the FIVB rankings), the United States (4th) and Thailand (15th), starting in Turkiye.