Two liberos participated in the ‘2023 Korean Volleyball Federation (KOVO) Men’s Asian Quarter Draft’ held in Jeju at the end of last month. Among them, Ryohei Iga (29, Japan) was selected by KEPCO and will stand on the stage of the V-League in the 2023-2024 season. He is the first foreign libero in the V-League.
KEPCO was interested in the libero position from the beginning. In the playoffs (PO) of the 2022-2023 season, KEPCO, which lost after a close battle with Hyundai Capital, regretted that the defense was shaken at the decisive moment. During the off-season, I was thinking of reinforcing the libero, but Iga, who participated in the Asia Quarter, caught my eye. Receive and Dig, as well as the two-tier connection, were smooth. Active call play was also noticeable.
KEPCO’s competitor was Korean Air, the winning team. Korean Air, a powerful force, also prioritized recruiting Libero. The joys and sorrows of the two clubs were divided in the bead lottery. Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO) and Korean Air ranked second and third respectively. The first place was Samsung Fire & Marine, which had a lot of interest in the striker. Director Kwon, with a smile on his face, couldn’t hide his joy, saying, “I hoped that I would rank ahead of Korean Air.”
Iga is a member of the Japanese business team Panasonic Panthers. Already prepared to leave the company when he submitted the application form, he said, “I have a desire to go abroad, but I want to live in the Korean league for a long time.”
Lee Ga emphasized team play. He said, “Individual competence is important, but you have to play well as a team. You have to make smooth play while leading the players,” he said. “Liberos in Korea and Japan have similar play styles. I will be able to adapt well,” he said with confidence.ㅋㅋㅋ벳
The desire to win was also strong. He said, “I want to show stable play without ups and downs. I have experience winning in Japan, but not recently. I really want to win in Korea.” Iga will join the team training on July 1st.
Director Kwon highly valued Lee Ga’s experience. He explained the selection background, saying, “Our team’s liberos are young and have some ups and downs, but Iga, who has experience, will be able to help.” It was also a choice to maximize the offensive power of Thais (32), a foreign player. Coach Kwon added, “He is a player who can relieve Thais’ burden of receiving.”
However, this does not mean that a week is guaranteed. Opportunities are open to existing liberos Jang Ji-won (22) and Lee Ji-seok (25). With the recruitment of Iga, internal competition ignited in earnest. This is one of Kwon’s goals. Director Kwon stressed, “If there is something to learn from each other while competing in good faith, we should learn from each other.”