It was a full-set match against Heungkuk Life, just 657 days in the making. In the fifth set, the team fought back from deuce, but couldn’t hold on for their first win of the season.
On Thursday, Heungkuk Life defeated IBK Sangsan Bank 3-2 (26-24, 22-25, 25-18, 23-25, 18-16) in the third round of the Dodram V-League Women’s Division of the 2023-24 season at Samsan Gymnasium in Incheon.
Abe Crombie led the way with 36 kills, matching her opponent Kim Yeon-kyung’s total, but it wasn’t enough to save her team from defeat.
IBK hadn’t played a full-set match against Heungkuk Life since February of the 21-22 season.
It was the first time in the 22-23 and 23-24 seasons.
In the post-match interview, IBK head coach Kim Ho-cheol described the match as “a game that could have been won or lost”.
Although the team was unable to win four consecutive games, they showed good concentration in shaking up the opponent’s defense. “It’s true that we’ve improved a lot,” Kim said, “but I can see that the players sometimes fall into their old habits and collapse. If we can improve on that, I think we’ll do well to reach our goal until the end.”
Earlier in the day, Kim mentioned Lim Hye-rim’s ankle injury before the match and said that he had only two middle blockers who could actually play, Choi Jeong-min and Kim Hyun-jung. Kim Hee-jin’s physical condition is not perfect, so it is difficult for her to play fully.
“I wanted to make a substitution because I didn’t have any players left, and I think (Kim) Hyun-jeong was running out of energy at the end, but I didn’t have a substitute, so I couldn’t make a substitution, but the two players worked hard in their own way,” Kim said, adding, “I was worried about (Choi) Jung-min because she seemed to be a little short today, but the rest of the team was fine.”
On the chemistry between main setter Ponpun and the domestic players, Kim said, “When our serve is good, Ponpun’s toss shines. However, the accuracy of the ball is a bit off right now,” Kim said, “But I can’t say anything about Ponpun’s operation right now. We need our forwards to hit it accurately,” he said.
The team will play their fifth match of the third round on March 19 at home against Pepper Savings Bank.