Kim Ji-han puts Woori Won’s first V League victory within reach

Seoul Woori Card Woori Won’s Kim Ji-han, left, celebrates with Matej Kok during a V League game against the Incheon Korean Air Jumbos at Jangchung Arena in central Seoul on Dec. 7. [YONHAP]

The duo of Kim and Kok is the main reason behind the success. Kok is the league’s third top scorer with 479 points as of Tuesday, and Kim comes in eighth with 269.  Kim is also the second top Korean scorer in the V League after Im Dong-hyeok of the Incheon Korean Air Jumbos, at 281. “I didn’t think that our team would do this well,” Kim said during an interview with the JoongAng Ilbo at Songnim Gymnasium in Incheon on Dec. 13. “I expected our team would be in the middle of the table. This [success] is not solely because I have been playing well, but because every one of our players has done his part well.”  Kim, however, does not see himself as an ace yet, although Woori Won Head Coach Shin Young-chul and setter Han Tae-jun said he is. “An ace is a star player who has to do well in critical moments and show a consistent form,” Kim said. “I am not quite at that level yet, and the most important thing for me is to be more consistent.”Woori Won is five points clear at the top of the table as of Tuesday. Winning the league this season would be their first-ever victory.  

They did not technically win the league title in the 2019-20 season, as the season was halted due to the Covid pandemic when they were at the top of the table. Woori Won’s victory would also end the Jumbos’ three-year dominance. The Incheon side have swept the league and championship titles for the past three seasons. Kim’s dream is to play for the national team and play at the Olympics alongside his so-called “99 friends.” Im of the Jumbos, Lim Sung-jin of Suwon Kepco Vixtorm and Park Sung-jin of Ansan OK Financial Group Okman are Kim’s “99 friends.” They were all born in 1999.The four were all part of Korea’s squad at the 2017 FIVB Volleyball Boys’ U19 World Championship where they finished in fourth.“Whenever I meet my ‘99 friends,’ I tell them we should revitalize the popularity of volleyball,” Kim said. “I want to compete at the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics, [although Korea did not qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympics.]” The Korean men’s volleyball team has failed to qualify for the Games since 2000, when they finished in ninth place. Until Kim receives a national duty call, he will continue to be in V League action with Woori Won. The team faces the Uijeongbu 스포츠토토존 KB Insurance Stars at home on Wednesday.  

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