At the V-League Women’s Media Day held ahead of the start of the tournament on December 12, Heungkuk Life was the favorite of the other teams.
When asked to name the two teams they would most like to see in the championship, all but one of the six teams voted for 토토 Heungkuk Life.
The reason why Heungkuk Life is so highly regarded even before the start of the tournament is because of the “volleyball goddess” Kim Yeon-kyung.
The veteran Kim finished last season as the most dominant player in the league, winning the MVP award. She scored 669 points (5th overall), the most of any Korean player. Her offensive success rate of 45.76% ranked first. She was also perfect on defense, ranking eighth in receiving efficiency (46.80%) and 10th in digs (3.713 per set), among other top-10 finishes.
Kim, who became a free agent during the offseason, was expected to move on, but she stayed with Heungkuk Life. Last season, Heungkuk Life finished first in the regular season, but came up short in the championship game. Kim was determined to win the title once again. The addition of Kim’s “best friend” Kim Soo-ji to the roster via free agency further solidified the team.
Heungkuk Life has lived up to its reputation as an ‘absolute powerhouse’ by winning both of its opening two matches. After a 3-0 shutout win against Korea Expressway Corporation on the 14th, the team won 3-2 in a full-set match against Hyundai E&C on the 18th.
Kim Yeon-kyung, who led her team to victory with 23 points against Hyundai E&C, said, “I think (other teams) are playing a press game. I don’t feel very good,” she joked, making the audience laugh.
For Kim, the goal of Heungkuk Life is more important than the evaluation of other teams. “I don’t care what other teams think of us, I’m going to do my best one game at a time,” he said. “Even last season, we didn’t finish well even though we won the regular season, so I’m talking to the players to get better by playing one game at a time.” He reiterated, “We’re not the No. 1 team.”
Kim Yeon-kyung isn’t the only one with the same goal. Even Kim Soo-ji, who previously played for Heungkuk Life, has joined the team and the atmosphere is getting better. “The teamwork is good,” Kim said, “There have been some changes in the composition of the squad, but I think the players are still nervous. There are still some things that need time, but the team will get better as we go along. We’ve gotten better since Kim Soo-ji came, and Reina, who came as an Asian Quarterfinalist, has good offense, so she’ll play her part in important moments,” Kim said, expressing her faith in her teammates.