Setter Yeom Hye-sun (KGC Ginseng) of the South Korean women’s national volleyball team is gritting her teeth once again.
The team departed from Incheon International Airport on Nov. 22 to Turkiye for the first week of the FIVB Volleyball Nations League (VNL). 메이저놀이터 South Korea will play their first match against Turkmenistan before facing Canada, the United States, and Thailand. The team will then travel to Brazil for Week 2 of the VNL.
There are three setters in the 16-player roster. Yeom Hye-sun, Kim Da-in (Hyundai E&C), and Kim Ji-won (GS Caltex) were selected. A year ago, Yeom Hye-sun also expressed her ambitions for the VNL. “I’m like Dodolpyo,” she laughed, “but I hope I’m not like Dodolpyo in terms of performance,” she said.
“Actually, the feeling of being stuck hasn’t gone away, but I hope it will be better than last year. You can’t get better by staying still. I think the players who traveled with me last year will grit their teeth even more.”
South Korea has been weakened by the retirement of veterans Kim Yeon-kyung, Kim Soo-ji and Yang Hyo-jin from the national team after reaching the quarterfinals of the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. In the FIVB rankings alone, the team has dropped from 14th to 23rd after the Tokyo Olympics.
Coach Han Yoo-mi and ‘captain’ Park Jung-ah, who met at the Jincheon Athletes’ Village on the 16th, vowed to improve and build on their victories. Yeom Hye-sun said, “The members have changed a bit this time. We’re younger. I have to do my part by leading them well and counseling them. I will try to build up the number of wins somehow.”
Speed is something that Cesar emphasized to his players. “In international competitions, height is a disadvantage. You have to use your speed to win. I think this can be achieved by having good fundamentals and organization.” “In order to increase speed, you need to receive well, deliver well, and hit a little faster. In the end, the trifecta must be right.”
In recent years, both Japan and Thailand have been performing well in international competitions by playing speed volleyball based on solid organization, despite their weakness in height. Japan is still strong. They are currently ranked sixth in the FIVB rankings. Thailand also underwent a generational change after the Tokyo Olympics, but their “young blood” has helped them leapfrog South Korea to 15th place. It is a survival method for Asian teams to strengthen their international competitiveness.
Yeom Hye-sun has been doing her own research. She watched overseas leagues and analyzed setters’ styles to improve their toss speed and accuracy. “I watch a lot of European league matches. Recently, the setters of major teams are good. I can learn a lot from them. I was also impressed with (Joanna) Bowsch and (Alessia) Oro, who play in the Italian league. Their toss accuracy and speed are both good.”
Bowsch is the starting setter for the 2022-23 Italian League champions Imoco Corneliano. She is also the captain of the Polish women’s national volleyball team, coached by Stefano Labarini. Oro also plays for Milan in the Italian League, where she faced Bowser in the league finals this season. Oro is also a reliable setter for the Italian Women’s National Team.
These are the same setters that Yeom Hye-sun has faced on the international stage. She’s looking forward to sharing the joy of victory with her teammates.