The Korean women’s volleyball team, led by coach Cesar Hernández Gonzalez, defeated Kazakhstan with a set score of 0-3 (24-26, 23) in the Asian Women’s Volleyball Championship 5th-6th place match held at Chatchai Hall in Nakhon Ratchasima,
Thailand on the 6th (Korean time). -25, 23-25). Korea, which was caught by Vietnam in the group stage, lost to the host country Thailand in the quarterfinals and was unable to advance to the semifinals, and was defeated by Kazakhstan in the 5th-6th place match, finishing in 6th place.
Since Coach Cesar took charge of the national team, Korea suffered the disgrace of losing all of its games and scoring 0 points in the Volleyball Nations League for two consecutive years, and also lost to Vietnam, Thailand, and Kazakhstan in the Asian Championships.
With this kind of performance, it is difficult to expect good results in the 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games, which are less than a month away. The bigger problem is that the slump in this Asian Championship is not a temporary phenomenon
but the ‘reality’ that Korean women’s volleyball will face in 2023.
This is the first time since the launch of the competition in 1975 that Korean women’s volleyball
which has made it to the semifinals of the Olympics twice centered on ‘Volleyball Empress’, has not even reached the semifinals at the Asian Championships.
However, this was not the first time that Korean women’s volleyball was eliminated from an Asian-level competition without making it to the semifinals.
The time goes back 17 years to the 2006 Doha Asian Games. Korea failed to advance to the semifinals of the Doha Asian Games, losing to Thailand with a set score of 1-3 in the quarterfinals of the Doha Asian Games. 고스톱
Thailand also won the Asian Championships by beating China with a set score of 3-2, and has grown into a powerful force in world volleyball, often defeating European powerhouses on the world stage. However, as of 2006, Thailand’s women’s volleyball team was still underpowered compared to the three countries of Far East Asia: Korea, China, and Japan. Therefore, the fact that Korea, which had expected at least a medal or at most a gold medal, was caught by Thailand was a major upset and a result that was close to a ‘humiliation’ for Korea. At the Doha Asian Games, Korea’s elite members include Kim Yeon-kyung (Heungkuk Life Insurance Pink Spiders), Hwang Yeon-ju (Hyundai E&C Hillstate), Jeong Dae-young (GS Caltex KIXX), Kim Se-young, Han Yu-mi (national team coach), and Han Song-i (Cheong Kwan-jang Red Sparks). Even after competing, I experienced the ‘disaster’ of being eliminated in the quarterfinals. Korean women’s volleyball failed to advance to the finals at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and suffered as much criticism from volleyball fans and the media as it does now.
However, Korean women’s volleyball, which had been stagnant, began to revive by winning a silver medal at the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games, and at the 2012 London Olympics, it advanced to the semifinals for the first time in 36 years since winning a bronze medal at the 1976 Montreal Olympics. After advancing overseas in 2009, Kim Yeon-kyung gained a reputation as the world’s best outside hitter by playing in the Japanese, Turkic, and Chinese leagues, and the V-League, which was launched in 2005, gradually became established and became the foundation for the development of women’s volleyball.
Korea has consistently achieved success on the international stage, winning a gold medal at the 2014 Incheon Asian Games and reaching the quarterfinals at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, there was the negative news that sisters Lee Jae-young and Lee Da-young (Bolero Le Canet) were excluded from the national team after being involved in a school violence incident, but the remaining players came together and achieved the feat of reaching the semifinals once again following the London Olympics. did. In this way, women’s volleyball has become a representative team ball sport that Korea is proud of.
In fact, the weakening of the women’s volleyball team after the Tokyo Olympics was to some extent expected. This is because the national team’s captain and ace Kim Yeon-kyung, as well as Yang Hyo-jin (Hyundai Engineering & Construction) and Kim Su-ji (Heungkuk Life Insurance), who reliably guarded the center, ended their national team careers at the same time. In addition, coach Stefano Lavarini (Poland national team coach), who led the team to the semifinals at the Tokyo Olympics, refused to renew his contract, putting the national team in a situation where they had to completely reorganize the game.
Korea entrusted the national team to Coach Cesar, who had assisted Coach Lavarini, but in the two years since his appointment, Coach Cesar left behind poor records, including 24 consecutive losses in VNL competitions, elimination in the group stage of the World Championships, and elimination in the quarterfinals of the Asian Championships. Since Coach Cesar took office, the record of Korean women’s volleyball is only 5 wins and 31 losses. Four of the five wins were against weaker teams at the Asian level, such as Taiwan, Uzbekistan, Australia, and India (against Taiwan, they barely won after a close match that went to a full set).
Some criticized the capabilities and attitude of Coach Cesar, who also serves as coach and manager of the European team and the Korean national team. Someone else also pointed out the busy schedules of the players, who go back and forth between the national team and their affiliated teams all year round and lack the opportunity to receive systematic training and work together. These are all valid points and criticisms, and this is an issue that the Korea Volleyball Federation, which hosts the V-League, and the Korea Volleyball Association, which sets the national team schedule, must put their heads together to seriously consider.
However, the more fundamental problem is the ‘skill’ of the Korean players, with key players including Kim Yeon-kyung missing. Even if the struggles in the VNL, where they had to face world powerhouses one after another, were unavoidable, there is no excuse for losing to Vietnam and Kazakhstan in the Asian Championships. It is now an undeniable fact that Korea, which reached the world’s top four just two years ago, has left the ranks of Asian women’s volleyball powerhouses, with China, Japan, and Thailand forming the top three.
After finishing the VNL and Asian Championships, the women’s volleyball team must prepare for the 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games, which opens on the 23rd, without even having time to reorganize the team. Korea won silver, gold, and bronze medals in the last three Asian Games, respectively. However, with the performance shown this year, it is not easy for Korean women’s volleyball to expect good results at the Hangzhou Asian Games. I hate to admit it, but it is difficult to even be ranked 4th in Asia because this is the sad reality facing Korean women’s volleyball today.