“As you can see, it was a winnable game.”
IBK almost reeled in the big fish. On Thursday, IBK lost a close five-set match against Heungkuk Life Insurance at Samsan Gymnasium in Incheon, South Korea. In the fifth set, IBK led 12-9 and was just three points away from victory, but lost 16-18 after deuce.
“As you can see, it was a match that we could have won,” said Kim Ho-cheol, head coach of IBK, after the match. “We had a few chances, but we couldn’t finish them, which shows our quality.”
The loss ended their three-game winning streak. A fourth straight victory over Heungkuk Life would have given the team a definite boost.
Nevertheless, Kim was positive. “It’s true that our players have improved a lot,” Kim said, “but sometimes you can see them falling apart because of their old habits, and if we can compensate for that, I think we’ll be well on our way to the goal we wanted and thought about.”
Only Choi Jung-min and Kim Hyun-jung played full time at middle blocker as Lim Hye-rim was unable to play due to injury. Both finished with nine digs. “I wanted to substitute (Kim) because she seemed to be losing her strength, but I didn’t have anyone to substitute, so I couldn’t do it, but it was good enough,” said Kim, who praised the duo for holding on without a substitute.
The chemistry between setter Vonfun and the attackers also looked good. Coach Kim made the same assessment. “When the serve receive is good, Ponpun’s toss shines. However, when the reception is not good, the accuracy of the ball drops,” he said. “Still, it’s not about Ponpun, but our attackers should be able to hit it.”
Currently, Heungkuk Life and Hyundai E&C have 35 points each to form a two-way tie for second place. Third-place GS Caltex (25 points), fourth-place IBK (23 points), and fifth-place Jungkwanjang (23 points) make up the mid-table.
Coach Kim said, “I think every game will be tough this season. It can bite you. “Heungkuk Life and Hyundai E&C are hitting the ground running, but the teams behind them seem to be doing a good job of keeping up,” Kim said, adding that it’s a season where you can’t be too careful.
IBK will play a home game against Pepper Savings Bank in Hwaseong on the 19th.