Women’s volleyball’s new head coach freshens up after seven seasons

Daejeon is one of the few cities in the world that shares a unique male-female connection with Incheon in professional volleyball. It was once a springtime hotbed for the Samsung Fire dynasty, which won eight consecutive championships, but hasn’t played spring volleyball since the 2017-2018 season. The women’s program has failed to reach the postseason for six consecutive seasons since their playoff (PO) experience in 2016-2017, and the dynasty label is now a relic of the past after the 토토 Fire finished second in the PO in 2017-2018.

After six seasons, a spring breeze seems to be blowing in Daejeon. Jung Kwan-jang, the women’s champion, won its fourth consecutive game against Heungkuk Life in Daejeon on Nov. 24 and is now firmly in third place. The team is on track to advance to the spring volleyball for the first time in seven seasons.

The key to Jung Kwan-jang’s rise has been enduring hardship. The absence of a homegrown attacker to back up foreign outside hitter Zia and Asian-quarter apogee spiker Mega has been a disappointment, but Lee So-young (pictured), who has been steadily improving her form since returning from injury, has finally found her groove. With her return, the team’s offense and defense became unrecognizable.

Against Heungkuk Life on Nov. 24, Lee scored just 10 points, but she collected a team-high 31 digs on a 62.5 percent reception success rate (10-of-16). Her dig success rate was a whopping 93.94% (31/33). With Lee’s steady presence at the back row, Mega and Jia’s offense is multiplied, and the team has the firepower to beat any team they face.

With third place more or less secured, Jung Kwan-jang’s task is to go straight to the POs. As of the 24th, Jungkwanjang, which has 53 points, is eight or nine points behind fourth-place GS Caltex (45 points) and fifth-place IBK (44 points). As long as they are within 3 points of each other, they don’t have to go through a quasi-PO.

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