April 1, 2023

On Sunday, Korea’s miserable performance at the Volleyball Nations League came to an end. Korea finished the competition without claiming a single victory, marking the nation’s poorest performance in the competition’s history.

Korea finished their tenure competing in the VNL with a record of 12 losses and no victories, placing them at the absolute bottom of the standings. On Sunday, they were defeated by China by a score of 3-1. Belgium is in second-to-last place with four victories and eight defeats on its credit.

The best finish that Korea ever achieved in the VNL was 12th place in 2018, with a record of five wins and 10 losses. In 2019, Korea ended 15th overall with a record of three victories and 12 losses, while the 2020 VNL season was canceled due to the Covid-19 virus. In the race from the previous year, Korea came in second to last.

The 2022 edition of the VNL reverted to its traditional format, in which 16 nations compete against each other in a round robin across six cities located in different parts of the world. This was a change from the previous year’s edition, which was played in a bubble with all matches being played in Rimini, Italy.

Korea was unable to score a single point in any of the first seven matches they played in the United States and Brazil, and they went on to lose every single one of those matches in three sets.

On June 19, Korea defeated Turkey to win their first set of the tournament, 25-20, but they went on to lose the following three sets, 25-13, 25-19, and 25-15. Turkey went on to win the tournament. The next two matches that Korea played, against the No. 8 seed Thailand and the No. 2 seed Brazil, were both losses for Korea.

In Korea’s most recent two matches, on Friday against No. 3 Italy and on Sunday against No. 4 China, the nation was able to win a set in each match rather than succumbing to a three-set battering in each of those contests.

On Friday, Korea gave a fine account of themselves against Italy. The first set was won by Italy 25-17, but Korea was able to come back and win the second set 25-23 after putting up a valiant effort. The final two sets were won by Italy, 25-15 and 25-19 respectively.

Italy performed somewhat better than Korea in terms of assaults, blocks, serves, digs, and made less errors overall, but the difference was not particularly significant. While Korea had 42 attacks and Italy had 55, Italy had 11 blocks while Korea only had six. Italy scored 29 points off of Korean mistakes, while Korea scored 27 points off of Italian mistakes.

On Sunday, Korea defeated China by a score of 25-19 in the second set after falling down by a score of 25-13 in the first set.

Korea’s defense was less effective against China, as they were outblocked more frequently. China had twelve blocks, whilst Korea only had four. However, Korea was successful in causing more errors on the part of the opponent, gaining 26 points from China’s mistakes while China gained 24 points from Korea’s mistakes.

China triumphed with a score of 95 points overall, surpassing Korea’s total score of 81 by by 14 points.

Lee Han-bi was the team Korea player with the highest scoring average in both games. He contributed 14 points against Italy and 12 points against China.

The departure of seasoned players Kim Yeon-koung, Kim Su-ji, and Yang Hyo-jin from the Korean volleyball team made it inevitable that this year’s Volleyball Nations League would be more challenging for Korea than the previous season’s competition.

Since the three veterans all resigned from the national team last year after competing at the 2020 Tokyo Summer Games, the redesigned Korean national volleyball team had jetted off on May 31 to begin their VNL season with a drastically different lineup. The veterans all competed in the 2020 Tokyo Summer Games.

Lee Da-hyeon, Yeum Hye-seon, Han Da-hye, An Hye-jin, Park Eun-jin, Park Jeong-ah, Jeong Ji-yun, Kim Hee-jin, and Pyo Seung-ju are the only nine players on the 2022 team that participated in the Volleyball Nations League in 2021.

Not only was there a new player added to the roster, but Korea also began the 2018 VNL season with a different coach at the helm. Cesar Hernandez Gonzalez, who was given the position of head coach for Korea in October of the previous year and was given a contract that ran from 2022 to 2024, oversaw Korea’s play during the 2022 season. From 2019 till 2021, he worked as an assistant coach under the direction of the team’s previous head coach, Stefano Lavarini. Gonzalez participated in their first ever competition in the Volleyball Nations League this season.

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