How did Korean Air’s seventh-place finish at the Asia Club Championships help the team?

V-League champions Korean Air finished seventh at the Asia Club Volleyball Championship 2023, which concluded on Wednesday in Manama, Bahrain.

Having won the V-League title for three consecutive seasons, Korean Air’s ranking is nothing to brag about. However, the team was not fully fit for the tournament. Their top setter, Han Sun-sun, and main middle blocker Kim Gyu-min were sidelined for rehabilitation, and foreign player Lincoln did not join the squad due to the lack of an international transfer agreement (ITC).

With seven games in eight days, the lack of full strength was evident. The team was unable to overcome the disadvantage of going into the quarterfinals with one loss in their final group game against Jakarta Bayankar (Indonesia). In the first match of the quarterfinals, they were swept 0-3 by Suntory Sunbirds (Japan), a team led by Dmitry Mutsalsky, one of the world’s best middle blockers (center), and in the fifth- and sixth-place matches, they were unable to stop one of Iran’s national apogee spikers, Saber Kazemi (Kuwait Sporting Club).

Nonetheless, there were definitely accomplishments. Setter Jung Jin-hyuk, outside hitter Lee Jun (left), and middle blocker Jeong Jin-wi (right), who hadn’t gotten much playing time in the V-League, tested their potential. Lim Dong-hyuk, who took over the role of the main gun in place of Lincoln, also showed off his offensive instincts without support. Libero Kang Seung-il, the youngest member of the team at 2005, also made his professional debut.안전놀이터

Korean Air head coach Tommi Tilikainen cited Lim and Lee as his biggest takeaways from the tournament. “Lim Dong-hyuk was able to showcase his offensive prowess regardless of the opponent, and his attitude and behavior on the court were very good,” he said, “and Lee Jun also showed his skills and potential.”

The annual Asian Club Championships will be held in Japan next year. Speaking about qualifying for next year’s tournament, Tilikainen said: “This is not a tournament to be taken lightly. Other teams are serious enough to bring in players on short-term contracts just for this tournament. If we are able to participate next year, we would like to compete with our full strength.”

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