Heungkuk Saengsim finished the first round of the Dodram 2023-2024 V-League Women’s Division in first place. The team has shown a strong will to win since the off-season, signing middle blocker 토토 Kim Soo-ji as a free agent, as if they wanted to avenge last season’s runner-up finish. Now, all that’s left to do is to resolve the issue of managing the bum room.

On April 4, Heungkuk Life won the first round home match of the women’s championship against IBK Kookmin Bank 3-1 (26-24 15-25 25-19 28-26) at Samsan World Gymnasium in Incheon. The top-ranked team (15-5-1) ended the first round on a high note with two straight wins.

During the first round, Heungkuk Life lived up to its label as an ‘absolute powerhouse’. Their only loss was against Jungkwan Jangjeon (2-3) on March 26, and they had a whopping three shutout victories (3-0). Outside hitter Kim Yeon-kyung (left) has been solid, while outside spiker Yelena (Bosnia) has been on fire, leading the league in back-row attack success rate (50%). The mobile offense of middle blockers Kim Soo-ji and Lee Ju-ah was also effective.

However, through four days, Heungkuk Life was tied for sixth in total blocks (118) with Hyundai E&C. Bumseols are inevitable in the nature of a strong team that is given relatively more attacking opportunities than other teams, but it’s a bit disappointing considering that the team ranked first in the category last season (637). In particular, bumseols hindered Heungkuk Life in their only loss of the first round, against Jung Kwan-jang, where they were down 2-1 in the fourth set before eventually succumbing in the fifth set. While Jung Kwan-jang’s errors decreased as the set progressed, Heungkuk Life was more prepared as they were unable to get over the hump.

Heungkuk Life had suffered a reverse sweep at the hands of Korea Expressway Corporation in last season’s championship. With a determination to not allow any variables to affect their chances of winning the title, they need to cut down on their errors and build on their strengths to be able to smile at the end of this season.

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