Hard-working and with a personality of her own, Reina has gone from a “hidden card” to a “must-have” for Heungkuk Sinsa this season.
On April 2, the team swept GS Caltex 3-0 in straight sets in the fifth round of the 2023-24 Dodram V-League Women’s Division at Jangchung Gymnasium.
With the win, Heungkuk Life improved its head-to-head record to 3-2. Heungkuk Life’s newest recruit Willow Johnson led the team in scoring with 19 points, followed by Kim Yeon-kyung and Reina with 15 points each, making the trio more than adequate.
Reina is now an indispensable member of the Heungkuk Life team. While she still needs to work on her receiving game, she is a very good offensive resource, switching between the middle blocker and outside hitter positions.
Heungkuk Life started the season with Jelena Mrazenovic (Jelena) before Willow, the current mercenary, arrived.
However, Yelena started to struggle in the middle of the season. Over the course of the third and fourth rounds, Kim’s offense was pushed to the limit. Yelena needed a resource to support Kim, who had to play the position of a true opposite spiker.
This is when Reina emerged as the ‘hidden card’. With her bouncy jumps and powerful slamming skills, she bombed the opposing court unexpectedly, scoring double-digit points at a high rate. It was at the end of December last year that her solver side came to the fore. Starting with scoring more points (15) than Yelena (13) in the Jeonggwanjang match, she scored 20 points in the Roadworks match on January 12, forming a real duo with Kim Yeon-kyung.
In a 1-3 loss to GS Caltex on January 17, Reyna scored 17 points. Then, on Jan. 31, she scored a game-high 22 points to lead her team to victory against Roadworks.
“I was upset that we lost to GS Caltex just before the All-Star Break,” Reyna said, “and even though Korea Expressway Corporation was our opponent in the last game, I was still upset and did my best to win. It was refreshing (to win),” he said, revealing his quiet competitor side.
She was also pleased with Willow, who was replaced during the season, saying that her left hand made her attack faster, but she was more positive about the energy she brought to her teammates. “She’s bright (outside of volleyball) and always positive, so it’s nice to hang out with her,” Reina smiled.
The two sat next to each other in the interview room and quickly bonded over the occasional touch.
With Willow’s cheerful reactions, Kim Yeon-kyung’s bubbly personality, and coach Abondanza’s fiery personality, Heungkuk Life has an overall energized team. Reyna, on the other hand, is passionate during matches, but shy and calm in general. While Willow, who was on the sidelines, said that Abondanza’s style was “familiar and suited her well,” Reyna hesitantly and awkwardly smiled.
“To be honest, I’m still getting used to it…” he said, eliciting laughter. “The director tends to speak strongly, and of course he doesn’t say anything wrong, but 토토사이트 순위 there are a lot of meetings, so sometimes it’s hard. But it’s up to the players to follow the coach’s instructions, so I’m doing my best,” he said honestly.
However, when asked, “Do you think you’ll get used to it soon?” he replied, “It’s a bit too much for me (yet)…it comes up in my dreams sometimes,” causing another round of laughter.
Heungkuk Life was briefly left without a middle blocker when Lee Ju-ah and Kim Chae-yeon suffered back-to-back injuries earlier this season.
Reina, the first Asian quarterfinalist this season, was sidelined for a while due to weakness in her reception, so she switched to the middle blocker position, and it worked.
Coach Abondanza then announced that she would move Reina back to her original position (outside hitter), and from the second half of the game, her steady offense allowed her to overtake Kim Mi-yeon in the starting lineup.
When asked if she felt confident returning to her original position, Reina said, “Actually, it was more of a relief that it was my original position, that it was finally my place. I feel relieved,” she smiled.
Meanwhile, Heungkuk Life will play their fifth round match against Jeong Kwanjang at home on the 8th.