The race for the top is just beginning.

Korean Air Men’s Professional Volleyball was all smiles after a 3-1 (31-29 23-25 25-23 25-19) set victory over KB Insurance in the fifth round of the Dodram 2023-2024 V-League at Incheon Gyeyang Gymnasium on Sunday.

It was their second straight win and they collected three points. Remained in second place with 50 points (16 W11 L) on the season. Stayed within striking distance of leader Woori Card, 토토 who has 50 points (17-9) after playing one less match.

Their 16-4 advantage in blocking was key. Middle blocker Kim Gyu-min had four, outside hitter Jeong Jung-yong had three, and outside hitter Lim Dong-hyuk, outside hitter Jeong Jung-seok, and middle blocker Cho Jae-young had two each.

Lim Dong-hyuk had a team-high 32 points (67.44% attack percentage), including two blocks and one serve. Jeong Jung-yong added 15 kills with three blocks (75% attacking success rate) and Kim Gyu-min added 10 kills with four blocks (60% attacking success rate). Overall, the team’s offensive accuracy was good, with a 62.38% attack percentage.

The starting lineup consisted of middle blocker Kim Gyu-min, setter Han, outside hitter Jung Jung-yong, middle blocker Cho Jae-young, outside hitter Cho Ji-seok, outside hitter Murad Khan (nicknamed Murad), libero Oh Eun-ryul, and libero Jung Sung-min. After substituting Im Dong-hyuk for Murad in the first set, the team continued to use him.

In the first set, Korean Air was down 7-11 and 16-19. However, the Korean Air team managed to pull back to 20-19 after Jung Jung-yong’s opener, Cho Jae-young’s block and two opponent attack errors. The tense match headed to deuce. At 29-29, Jeong Jung-yong’s back-row attack and Lim Dong-hyuk’s service ace made it 31-29 to take the first set. Lim Dong-hyuk roared with 12 points and a 100% attack success rate.

After dropping the second set, Korean Air tried to turn things around in the third set by substituting Kwak Seung-seok for Jeong Jung-yong and Kim Min-jae for Cho Jae-young. Jeong came off the bench again in the second half. At 19-19, Korean Air took a 22-19 lead after a quick opener by Jeong and blocking by Han and Kim Gyu-min.

Afterward, Lim Dong-hyuk attacked from behind and Jung Ji-seok blocked for a 24-20 set point. Hong Sang-hyuk’s open and service aces and a follow-up attack by Andres Biyena (registered name Biyena) brought the score to 24-23, but Hong’s service error secured the third set.

In the fourth set, the gap slowly widened to 3-4 points midway through. A quick open by Lim Dong-hyuk, a timeout, and an open and block by Jeong Jung-yong quickly made it 22-16. Jeong Jung-yong scored the final point with a quick open.

KB Insurance suffered its fourth straight loss. They remain at the bottom of the standings with 17 points (4-22).

ApoJit spiker Biyena led the way with 31 points (58.82% attack percentage), including one serve. Outside hitter Hong Sang-hyuk added 16 points (56% attack percentage) with two serves.

On the women’s side, IBK IBK won a 3-0 (25-20 26-24 25-18) set victory over Korea Expressway Corporation at the Gimcheon Indoor Gymnasium.

It finally ended a five-game losing streak. They held a 46.79%-38.53% advantage in attack percentage and a 5-2 advantage in serves. Apogee spiker Brittany Abercrombie (real name Abercrombie) had a team-high 24 kills (50% attack percentage) with one block. Outside hitter Pyo Seung-ju added 11 kills on one serve (33.33% attack percentage) and outside hitter Hwang Min-kyung added 10 kills on two serves (44.44% attack percentage).

Libero Kim Chae-won started for the first time this season. She filled in nicely for starter Shin Yeon-kyung, who was sidelined with a knee injury. She had a 64.29% receiving efficiency. She had 19 digs in 21 attempts. The most of any player on either team.

The deciding set was the second set. The two teams went back and forth. At 15-14, IBK went up 19-14 on a block by Abe Crombie, an ace by Hwang Min-kyung, a block by Abe Crombie, and an ace by Hwang Min-kyung. However, at 22-18, the opponent Tanacha Sooksot (registered name Tanacha) had a quick open, a service ace, and an ace by Vanya Vukiric (registered name Vukiric). A net touch by Pyo Seung-joo brought the score to 22-22.

At 24-24 deuce, KEB took the second set on a service ace by Choi Jung-min after Abercrombie’s late attack at the end of the rally. The team got over the hump and went straight to the shutout win.

The Roadrunners were unable to extend their winning streak to two. Apogee spiker Vukiric, who started as an outside hitter, finished with 20 kills (38.46% attack percentage), while middle blocker Bae Yuna added 10 kills (35% attack percentage) with three blocks.

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