‘Five-set upset’ Heungkuk Life defeats IBK to retain top spot in women’s volleyball

Heungkuk Life reclaimed the top spot in women’s volleyball behind the onslaught of “volleyball queen” Kim Yeon-kyung and the game-orchestrating skills of setter Park Hye-jin, who made a surprise comeback.

Heungkuk Life defeated IBK Sangsan Bank with a set score of 3-2 (26-24 22-25 25-18 23-25 18-16) in their Dodram 2023-2024 V-League Women’s Division home match at Samsan World Gymnasium in Incheon on Thursday.

After briefly losing the lead to Hyundai E&C (11-4, 35 points), which played one more match, Heungkuk Life climbed back to the top of the standings with 13-2, 35 points.

Both teams have the same number of points, but Heungkuk Life has the edge in wins.

In the third set, with the set score at 1-1, Heungkuk Life easily won the match as Yelena Mrazenovic (registered name Yelena) came to life.

After opening the third set with two consecutive service aces, Yelena scored eight points in the third set alone, including three points after the 20th point.

In the fourth set, Heungkuk Life fought back to tie the set at 16-22.

Lee Ju-ah’s fastball and three consecutive blocks by Kim Mi-yeon, Kim Yeon-kyung, and Lee Ju-ah pushed the score to 20-22, and at 20-23, Kim Yeon-kyung, who moved to the front row, scored three consecutive points to tie the score.

At 23-23, Kim Yeon-kyung blocked an attack by Brittany Abecrombie (registered name Abecrombie) and looked to be on her way to the upset, but IBK head coach Kim Ho-cheol caught Kim’s centerline infringement and lost the point through video review.

In the end, Heungkuk Life was unable to stop Pyo Seung-ju’s attack and sealed the victory in the fifth set.

Heungkuk Life was trailing 10-13 when Kim Yeon-kyung’s timed attack brought her back to serve, and Reina Tokoku (registered name Reina) tied the score with two consecutive points.

A netted error by her opponent’s blocker brought the score to 14-13, but she was unable to stop Hwang Min-kyung’s quick-opening attack and the match went into deuce.

The winner of the three deuce battles was Heungkuk Ssangsim.

At 16-16, Reina’s hard shot was hit by the IBK blocker and sent out of the court, and Reina bombed the opponent’s court once again to win the match.

Heungkuk Life’s Kim Yeon-kyung made her presence felt with a team-high 36 points, filling the void left by Yelena’s 16 points.

Reina, who replaced Yelena in the fifth set, finished with 11 points.

Heungkuk Life setter Park Hye-jin, who did not play a single match last season while rehabbing from knee surgery, made a surprise start after starting setter Lee Won-jeong was diagnosed with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and contributed five points, including three blocks.

It was Park’s first appearance in a league game since March 21, 2022, against GS Caltex.

Despite dropping the game, IBK took home a point and moved into fourth place with 8 wins, 8 losses and 23 points, pushing Jung Kwan-jang (7 wins, 8 losses and 23 points) into fifth place.

In the men’s match at Yoo Yoo-soon Gymnasium in Cheonan, No. 6 Hyundai Capital avoided the bottom of the table with a 3-2 (25-18 20-28 23-25 15-25 15-11) set win over No. 7 KB Insurance.

Hyundai Capital continued its dominance against KB Insurance, taking three of its four wins (11 losses) this season.

Hyundai Capital, which was tied with last-place KB Insurance with 13 points before the match, improved to 15 points with the win and remained in sixth place.

KB Insurance remains at the bottom of the standings with three wins, 13 losses, and 14 points.

KB Insurance, which had hoped to escape the bottom of the standings with two straight wins, stayed on track.

Hyundai Capital took a 2-0 lead in the set and looked to be on course for an easy three points, but they dropped the third and fourth sets and barely managed to win the fifth set.

Hyundai Capital’s Ahmed Iqbairi (real name Ahmed) scored a team-high 37 points, while Hong Dong-seon (16 points), Heo Soo-bong (12 points), and Choi Min-ho (10 points) also reached double digits. 파워볼