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Kim Yeon-kyung vs. Yang Hyo-jin, first clash of the championship… Choosing to go beyond being a ‘best friend’ and become the best queen

Professional volleyball women’s championship game 1st today
Kim, the ‘best spear’ – Yang, the ‘best shield’… MVP roommate exchanged with the national team
Kim “Another big match for the fans”
Yang: “We will increase our concentration and play a good game.”

‘Volleyball Empress’ Kim Yeon-kyung (Heungkuk Life Insurance, left photo) and ‘Block Queen’ Yang Hyo-jin (Hyundai Engineering & Construction, right photo) will face each other for the first time in the championship match. This season, Hyundai Engineering & Construction, ranked 1st in the regular league, and Heungkuk Life Insurance, ranked 2nd, will enter the championship match with 3 wins out of 5, starting with the first match held at Suwon Gymnasium on the 28th. Provided by the Korea Volleyball Federation (KOVO) · Sports Donga Reporter Joo Hyun-hee [email protected]

Korean women’s volleyball’s ‘best spear’ Kim Yeon-kyung (36, Heungkuk Life Insurance) and ‘best shield’ Yang Hyo-jin (35, Hyundai Engineering & Construction) will face each other in the championship game for the first time since their professional debut. Since both players are in their late 30s, this could be their last championship match.

‘Volleyball Empress’ Kim Yeon-kyung ranked first among domestic players (second overall) with an attack success rate of 45.0% this season. Kim Yeon-kyung (35.8%) ranks first overall in attack efficiency, which is calculated including the number of times her opponent blocks. The player with the highest blocking success rate (18.2%) against Kim Yeon-kyung was ‘Block Queen’ Yang Hyo-jin. The two players have taken turns as the regular league’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) over the past four seasons. It is highly likely that one of the two will win this season’s regular league MVP, for which the press voting has already ended.

The two players are rivals on the professional volleyball stage, but they are ‘best friends’ outside of the national team and court. Even after Yang Hyo-jin had enough experience with the national team to become a ‘room leader,’ she called herself a ‘room graduate’ and stayed as a roommate with Kim Yeon-kyung. Kim Yeon-kyung explains, “We both have neat personalities, so we are a good match.” At Yang Hyo-jin’s wedding in 2021, Kim Yeon-kyung received her bouquet, and they also share an online video service (OTT) account. After the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, the Taegeuk symbol will also be taken down.

When Kim Yeon-kyung became eligible as a free agent (FA) after failing to win the championship last season, she expressed her desire to transfer to Hyundai Engineering & Construction. Heungkuk Life Insurance won the first and second games against Korea Expressway Corporation in last season’s championship game, but suffered a ‘reverse sweep’ loss, dropping games 3 to 5. Accordingly, Kim Yeon-kyung, who judged that ‘it is difficult to win as a one-man team’, considered going to Hyundai Engineering & Construction where she could receive ‘supporting fire’ from Yang Hyo-jin. As Kim Yeon-kyung ultimately chose to stay with Heungkuk Life Insurance, she faced Yang Hyo-jin in the championship match as an enemy this season.

Kim Yeon-kyung said, “I’m glad that another big match has taken place. “I hope to show good volleyball to many fans,” he said. Yang Hyo-jin expressed her determination, saying, “Because Yeon-kyung has very good technique and is a good volleyball player, I will increase her concentration and play a good game.”

Both players chose ‘serve’ as the key point to victory. Kim Yeon-kyung is an outside hitter (left), so she must participate in serve and receive as well as attack. Kim Yeon-kyung gave the team victory by recording the highest receiving efficiency (43.2%) in the team in three playoff games against Jeong Kwan-jang. For Hyundai Engineering & Construction, the receiving burden on Kim Yeon-kyung must be increased as much as possible to increase the probability of winning. Of course, Heungkuk Life Insurance must overcome Yang Hyo-jin’s blocking wall.

SBS Sports commentator Lee Jeong-cheol said, “I think Hyundai Engineering & Construction is one step ahead in terms of overall structure. However, Heungkuk Life Insurance has Kim Yeon-kyung, who can change the flow of the game. He predicted, “The key to the game will be how much Heungkuk Life Insurance’s foreign player Willow (26, USA) can relieve Kim Yeon-kyung’s offensive burden.”

The 2023-2024 season championship match, in which the two pillars representing Korean women’s volleyball are competing for the one and only women’s division throne, will begin with a best of 5 matches, starting with the first match held on the 28th.

Reporter Kang Hong-gu [email protected]

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