After a disastrous 12-match losing streak in the FIVB Volleyball Nations League (VNL) last year, the South Korean women’s national team is looking for a different result this year. Speed will be essential if they are to achieve their goal.
Led by head coach César Hernández (Spain), the women’s team boarded a flight to Turku on Feb. 22. The team will have a final warm-up in Turku to prepare for the first week of the VNL.
Last year was a tough one for Korean women’s volleyball. The departure of key players such as Kim Yeon-kyung, Kim Soo-ji (Heungkuk Life) and Yang Hyo-jin (Hyundai E&C) after the 2021 Tokyo Olympics weakened the team and led to a 12-match losing streak in the VNL. It was the first time since the VNL began in 2018 that a Korean team had been swept and finished with zero points.
After suffering such a bitter defeat, the Korean team convened at the Jincheon Athletic Village last month to prepare for the tournament in an attempt to restore their honor.
Although Coach Cesar was unable to attend the training sessions due to his dual role as coach of Bakifbank (Turkkiye), the team prepared for the tournament with the help of Coach Han Yumi and Advisor Kim Yeon-kyung.
In particular, Korea has been preparing to play faster volleyball this time around, having realized their strength and height disadvantage on the international stage last year.
Team setter Yeom Hye-sun (Ginseng Corporation) explained the change before boarding the plane to Tunisia, saying, “We emphasized speed to our setters from the beginning of the training. We have difficulty with height, so we need to win with speed.” “For this purpose, we are trying to stick to the basics and become stronger,” she said.
Similarly, middle blocker Lee Da-hyun 안전놀이터 (Hyundai E&C) said, “Korea can’t keep up with European and South American players in terms of height and power. So we have to play with speed like Thailand and Japan in Asia,” he said, emphasizing that he has been paying a lot of attention to speed over the past month.
To help César improve his competitiveness, his advisor Yeon-kyung Kim also helped him. Kim, who has extensive international experience, pointed out details and passed on her know-how to the juniors.
“Compared to the V-League, it’s hard to score points on the world stage,” Lee said. “It’s hard to score points in the world stage compared to the V-League. It’s very helpful for the younger players who don’t have much international experience.”
Coach Han Yoo-mi, who has been coaching the players for a month, said, “We are better prepared than last year. We all know that this year is more important because our performance last year was so bad,” she said, adding, “We are determined to win at least three games.”