“Just make eye contact” — rebuilding self-esteem
The reunited Korean women’s national volleyball team is out to restore its pride.
The team departed from Incheon International Airport on Nov. 22 for Turkiye Istanbul to compete in the FIVB Volleyball Nations League (VNL) 2023. They will immediately travel to Antalya for the first week of the VNL.
Head coach César Hernández, who was absent during the domestic training camp due to his club’s schedule, will join the team in Turkiye. Coach Han Yoo-mi filled in for César, while Kim Yeon-kyung (Heungkuk Life) also helped the juniors in an advisory capacity.안전놀이터
Korean women’s volleyball made history at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, reaching the quarterfinals. Since then, Kim Yeon-kyung, Yang Hyo-jin (Hyundai E&C), and Kim Soo-ji (Heungkuk Life) have retired from the national team, and the team has begun a generational transition.
The void left by the loss of these key players was bigger than expected. In last year’s VNL, the national team suffered a 12-game losing streak. South Korea was the first country to go undefeated and winless in the VNL since its inception in 2018. The team also struggled at the World Championship, going 1-4. South Korea’s women’s volleyball team is currently ranked 23rd in the FIVB rankings.
With so many young players with little international experience, the team is expected to have a tough time this year. Of the 12 teams they will face in Weeks 1-3, only Croatia (27th) is ranked lower than them.
Kim Yeon-kyung, who will be accompanying the team through Week 1 of the VNL, said, “They say that the player base has been thickened compared to last year. “The atmosphere is really good right now, so I think we’ll be able to repay the favor with a better performance than last year,” Kim said. Coach Han Yoo-mi, who started her coaching career through the national team, said, “The players are willing to work hard because of the pain last year. My personal goal is to win one game every week in the VNL.”
After the VNL, the team will have a series of big competitions in September and October, including the Paris Olympic Qualifiers and the Hangzhou Asian Games. Captain Park Jung-ah (Pepper Savings Bank) said, “From the first day of the training camp, I told the team to work hard. (The team) is in the process of being built, so we will show them how to get better and better. All competitions are important, but the most important ones are the two competitions in September and October. By then, we can improve our organization, and we are trying to put together a team that can see eye-to-eye.”
“Everyone knows that we need to do better than last year. Our first goal is to show that we are making progress,” she said, adding, “We will focus on the second half of the (September-October) season so that we can achieve good results.”