Popularity is ‘huge’…but women’s volleyball’s medal hopes ‘clouded’ by lack of skill

The Women’s Professional Volleyball team played 133 games in the 2022-2023 season, drawing a total of 347,267 fans. That’s 2,611 per match. This was the highest attendance since the 2014-2015 season (125,241) when the Korean Volleyball Organization (KOVO) started keeping track. It was also the first time attendance exceeded 300,000. Last season, “volleyball queen” Kim Yeon-kyung (35-Hungkuk Life) returned to Korea after a long absence and helped fuel the league’s success.

However, despite its popularity, the national women’s volleyball team (ranked 36th in the world) has been on a downward spiral. In July, the team finished the 16-nation Volleyball Nations League (VNL), the world’s best volleyball tournament, with a 12-game sweep for the second straight year. Earlier this month, the team was knocked out in the quarterfinals of the 22nd 2023 Asian Volleyball Championship by Vietnam (ranked 40th). It was the first time Korean women’s volleyball had been knocked out in the quarterfinals of the tournament since the program began in 1975. The team has also been struggling in the ongoing Paris 2024 Olympic Qualifiers, raising red flags about their chances of qualifying for the main stage of next year’s Games in Paris. South Korea finished in the world’s top four at London 2012 (4th) and Tokyo 2021 (4th), but now they are not even in the top four in Asia.

South Korea’s women’s volleyball team has long been a powerhouse, with a long lineup of Kim Yeon-kyung, Yang Hyo-jin (34-Hyundai E&C), Kim Su-soo (36-Hungkuk Life), and Kim Hee-jin (32-IBK) showing world-class skills in front of the net. However, after the Tokyo Olympics, they either hung up their caps or suffered from injuries. The team hasn’t been able to replace them with the next generation. Leadership issues have also been pointed out, with current head coach Cesar Hernández González (46, Spain), who has been watching the Koreans since he was a coach in 2019, still unable to pick the best team and making erratic roster selections.온라인바카라

The plummeting international competitiveness also clouds the outlook for the upcoming Asian Games in Hangzhou, China, which begin on Aug. 23. The national team will start their medal bid against Vietnam on the first of next month. However, with home team China (6th), Japan (8th), and Thailand (14th) making up the formidable “Asian Big Three,” even a medal is far from assured. South Korea hasn’t finished on the podium since the 1962 Asian Games in Doha (fifth), except for the 2006 Asian Games (fifth).

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