Korean Air, representing Korea at the 2023 Asian Men’s Club Volleyball Championships, finished the tournament in 7th place after defeating Mongolia’s Bayanghongor.
On the 21st (hereafter local time), in the 7th and 8th place match of the tournament held at Issa Sports City Stadium in Manama, Bahrain, Korean Air defeated Bayanhongor 3-0 (25-21 25-23 25-18). With this victory, Korean Air recorded 4 wins and 3 losses in 7 matches in this tournament, and finished in 7th place.
Korean Air could not participate in this competition with full power. The best setter player Han, who is the captain and leads the team’s attack, and Kim Gyu-min, a built-in middle blocker, accompanied the team, but did not play in the game due to injury and rehabilitation. In addition, Lincoln Williams, a foreign main gun, could not join the squad due to the failure to issue an ITC (International Transfer Agreement). In response, head coach Tommy Tilikhainen said, “We want to make this tournament a place to give players who will become the team’s future powerhouse experience and opportunities to participate in international competitions.”
Nevertheless, Korean Air showed off its formidable power by beating Australia’s Canberra Heat, the first game of the group stage, and Bahrain’s Al Ahli, the favorite to win the tournament, 3-0 in a row.
However, in the forced march of 7 games in 8 days, the power that was not perfect was evident through repeated matches. In the last game of the group stage, Jakarta Bayankar of Indonesia unexpectedly suffered a blow and failed to advance to the quarterfinals without overcoming the disadvantage of going up with one loss in the quarterfinals, and Apogee Spiker, the Iranian national team, in the 5th and 6th place advances. The scene where I failed to stop one Insaber Kazemi (Kuwait Sporting Club) and lost was left with regret.
Suntory Sunbirds, led by Dmitri Mushalski, one of the best middle blockers in the world, lost 0-3 in the first match of the quarterfinals. I also listened.
It ended with a somewhat disappointing grade, but there were definitely results. Setter Jeong Jin-hyuk, outside hitter Lee Jun, and middle blocker Jin Ji-wi, who rarely had a chance in the V-League, were given plenty of playing time to test their potential. Lim Dong-hyuk, who took on the role of the main gun instead of Lincoln, was also given the opportunity to show off his offensive instincts without a win. Libero Kang Seung-il, the youngest member of the team born in 2005, made his professional debut in this tournament.
Coach Tillikainen, who finished this tournament, said, “I made the goal clear before the start of this tournament, but I felt mixed emotions during the tournament.” After he returned from vacation, he clearly knew what to improve on.”
Head coach Tillikainen cited Lim Dong-hyuk and Lee Joon as the biggest gains of this tournament. He said, “Im Dong-hyuk showed his attack power well, no matter who the opponent was, and his attitude and behavior on the court were also very good.” “I think Lee Joon also showed his skills and potential.”
The Asian Men’s Club Volleyball Championship is held every year. It will be played in Japan next year, with priority given to Korean Air, the 2022-2023 V-League champion. If there is the will of coach Tillikainen, it is possible to compete next year. He said, “This tournament is by no means an easy tournament to watch. Other teams are so serious about this event that they even bring in players on short-term contracts just for this event. If I participate in this competition next year, I want to participate with all my might,” he said.안전놀이터
Korean Air plans to grant vacation to the squad until June 26 after entering Korea. Head coach Tillikainen revealed his future plans, saying, “After returning from vacation, I will train by reflecting what I felt at this tournament.”