Who are the new faces to watch out for in the Yongmun KOVO Cup?

The KOVO Cup is a summer competition that precedes the V-League, the regular season of professional volleyball, and does not feature foreign players. This is a great opportunity for players who have been overshadowed by foreign players to showcase their talents to their team managers and fans.

The ‘Gumi-Dodram Cup Professional Volleyball Tournament’ (hereinafter referred to as the Cup), which has been held at the Park Jung-hee Gymnasium in Gumi, Gyeongbuk, since the 29th of last month, has made the eyes of team managers looking for new starters even sharper.

In particular, this year’s off-season has seen more big-name transfers than ever before. Park Jung-ah, 30, the main attacker of the women’s national volleyball team who led Korea Expressway Corporation to a miraculous title last season, has signed with the “youngest club” Pepper Savings Bank on the best terms ever.

Hwang Min-kyung (33), the captain of Hyundai E&C, who was responsible for side attacks and receptions, moved to IBK. Veteran centers Kim Soo-ji (36-IBK->Hungkuk Life) and Chung Dae-young (42-Korea Expressway Corporation->GS Caltex) also changed teams.

The defending V-League champions are testing the potential of third-year outside hitter Kim Sae-in (20-173 cm) to fill Park’s void.

Kim was drafted by Pepper Savings Bank with the fifth overall pick in the first round of the 2021 rookie draft. He wears the Roadworks jersey as compensation for Lee Ig-eun, 28, who signed a free agent contract with Pepper Savings Bank in April last year. He played as a libero when he joined the team, but has since adapted to the position as an attacker.

Kim scored a team-high 20 points and a 45.24% attacking success rate against Pepper Savings Bank on March 29. He followed that up with 10 points against KGC Ginseng Corporation on July 31 and 15 points against Hyundai E&C on August 2. Although the team failed to advance to the semifinals with a 1-2 record in the group stage, the team was able to see the potential of Kim Sae-in.

“We haven’t decided on Kim as a starter,” said coach Kim Jong-min. “We’ll have to see the performance of a foreign player (Vanya Vukiric) and an Asian quarterback (Tanacha Suksot).”

In the outside hitter spot left vacant by Hwang’s departure, Kim Joo-hyang, 24, who returned to his hometown team as a compensation player, has stood out.

Kim, who was selected by HMC with the third pick in the first round of the 2017-18 rookie draft, had to move to the team as a compensation player for Ko Yerim (29) in the 2019-20 season. He was then named a compensation player again and returned to his family after four seasons.

Kim scored six points in the first game against KGC Ginseng Corporation on Nov. 29, followed by 13 points against Pepper Savings Bank on Nov. 31, the second most on the team behind Yang Hyo-jin (34). She also scored 10 points in the third game against Korea Expressway Corporation on Feb. 2, alternating with Jung Si-young (30).메이저놀이터

“He is a player with good fundamentals and we expect him to play a big role,” said Hyundai E&C coach Kang Sung-hyung.

Kim Joo-hyang said, “It was easy to adapt to being back with my hometown team, and it was fun. It’s good to be able to play fun games,” he said, adding, “I’ll try to be strong and not fall apart easily.”

After losing center Kim Soo-ji to Heungkuk Life, IBK has high hopes for Choi Jung-min (21). Choi, who played as a side hitter in high school but has been a middle blocker since coming to the pros, was tested in the cup tournament to make the jump to the main roster.

Despite the team’s victory in the first round against Heungkuk Life on March 30, Choi showed tears of disappointment in her performance, but she has been improving with each match.

“(Choi) is the player who will take charge of the center after Kim Soo-ji,” said IBK head coach Kim Ho-cheol, adding, “I want her to play volleyball that she thinks of herself, volleyball that she leads.”

Choi, who led her team to victory against GS Caltex with eight points and nine effective blocks on the first day, said, “There were times when I was upset that my preparation in practice didn’t work out,” adding, “I think I was thinking too much. I try to be as relaxed as possible.”

Other players making their mark at the KOVO Cup include Jung Yoon-ju (20), who is expected to be the next ace of Heungkuk Life, and Kim Ji-won (22), who is being tested as GS Caltex’s new starting setter.

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