Yang Hyo-jin, who led Hyundai E&C to a first-round victory in the championship match, praised her “best friend” Kim Yeon-kyung for shining in defeat. She looked ahead to the next match without getting too excited about the victory.

Hyundai E&C won the first leg of the Dodram 2023-2024 V-League Women’s Champions League (best-of-five) against Heungkuk Life 3-2 (18-25, 14-25, 25-20, 25-20, 16-14) at Suwon Indoor Gymnasium in Suwon, Gyeonggi-do, at 7 p.m. on April 28.

After losing all three games at home against Heungkuk Life in the regular season, Hyundai E&C ended its bad luck with a home victory in the first leg of the championship match.

Heungkuk Life struck first in the first set. Leading 16-13, the ‘foreign duo’ Willow-Reina’s quick opener followed by Lee Ju-ah’s opener extended the lead to six points, 19-13. Hyundai E&C was unable to close the gap, and Heungkuk Life took the first set 25-18.

Heungkuk Life continued its momentum in the second set and dominated the match. From a 5-5 tie, Heungkuk Life scored six straight points to go on an 11-5 run. With their offense in full swing, Heungkuk Life continued their run to 25-14 and took the second set.

Entering a clutch third set, Hyundai E&C fought off a late charge from Heungkuk Life to win the set for the first time on the day, 25-20. The team then took the lead in the fourth set, which was tied at 19-19 before Moma’s blocking score gave them a 25-20 victory. The set score was tied 2-2. Moma exploded for 12 points in the fourth set to push her team to a fifth set.

In the fateful fifth set, which ended with 15 points, Heungkuk Life took a 5-2 lead thanks to back-to-back kills by Kim Yeon-kyung and Willow and a block by Kim Soo-ji. However, Hyundai E&C fought back to tie the set at 13-13, and on 15-14 match point after a deuce by Hyundai E&C, Willow’s attack was blocked by Heungkuk Life, giving Hyundai E&C a dramatic 3-2 set victory.

Middle blocker Yang Hyo-jin was named the Player of the Match after leading Hyundai E&C to victory with 16 kills and a team-high 44% attack percentage.

Heungkuk Life’s Kim Yeon-kyung and Hyundai E&C’s Yang Hyo-jin are more than teammates, they’re best friends. The two have been national team roommates for nearly a decade and have spent more than that time together, helping the South Korean women’s national volleyball team reach its peak, including a fourth-place finish at the 2012 London Olympics and a fourth-place finish at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. When Kim Yeon-kyung is on TV, Yang Hyo-jin often appears, confirming their longtime “best friends” status.

But even the closest of sisters and brothers can’t take away the title of V-League champion. Both players can’t take a step back considering the journey they’ve taken to get to this point.

The championship game will be the first V-League title in five years for Heungkuk Life and 15 years for Kim Yeon-kyung, who has been playing overseas since the 2008-2009 season. Kim and Heungkuk Life went straight to the championship game last year after topping the regular season, but lost the title to Doro Corporation. They also suffered the humiliation of being the first men’s and women’s team to suffer a reverse sweep (two wins followed by three consecutive losses) in the championship game since the V-League’s inception in 2005.

The situation is no different for Yang Hyo-jin, who has played 17 seasons with Hyundai E&C since her professional debut. After winning the championship in the 2015-2016 season, Yang and HMC twice finished first in the regular season (2019-2020, 2021-2022), but due to the early end of the season due to COVID-19 and the lack of playoffs, they were unable to win 메이저사이트 the crown despite securing the top spot in the standings after five rounds. In the previous season, 2022-2023, the team led the league with 15 consecutive wins in the first 15 games, but finished second in the regular season due to a lack of depth, and didn’t even get to see the championship game after losing to third-place Doro Engineering in the playoffs. It’s been eight years since Yang Hyo-jin and Hyundai E&C last won the title.

After beating Chung in the playoffs, Kim Yeon-kyung said, “Yang Hyo-jin called me before the game and said, ‘Win and I’ll see you in Suwon,’ and I’m glad it came true. It was a big match. Hyundai E&C has done well since the start of this season, so I think Heungkuk Life will do well in the championship.”

Speaking at the post-match press conference, Yang Hyo-jin said, “I didn’t think it was just a match between me and Yeon-kyung. It was the result of all the players of Hyundai E&C’s hard work.”

“Heungkuk Life is a strong opponent as they have built a stable powerhouse around Yeon-kyung. However, seeing her play so hard in the playoffs made me cheer for her,” he said. “I thought she might be physically tired, but she played so well that I thought it was amazing.” Kim finished with 23 points, second only to Hyundai E&C’s MOMA, who scored 37 points on the day.

Yang Hyo-jin commented on the team’s first appearance in the championship finals since the 2015-2016 season, when they last won the title, saying, “It’s great to win the regular season and to have a chance to win the championship. I will focus on my role and prepare for the next match,” said Yang.

Meanwhile, Hyundai E&C and Heungkuk Life will meet in the second match of the championship at 1:50 p.m. on May 30 at the same venue.


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