‘Kwak Seung-seok steady and Kim Min-jae in the middle’ Korean Air wins 3-0 over reunited Mongolian Bayang Hongor… 7th place in tournament final

Korean Air defeated Mongolian Bayang Hongor 3-0 (25-21, 25-23, 25-18) in straight sets in the seventh and eighth place match of the 2023 Asian Volleyball Confederation (AVC) Men’s Club Championship at the Isa Sports City in Manama, Bahrain on Monday (Nov. 21).

With the win, Korean Air finished the tournament in seventh place. They finished with a 4-3 overall record, including a 2-1 record in the group stage and a 2-2 record after the quarterfinals. Korean Air was without many of its main players for the tournament. Foreign player Lincoln’s ITC (International Transfer Agreement) expired, and setter Han, middle blocker Kim Gyu-min, and libero Jung Sung-min were all sidelined due to rehabilitation. Outside hitters Jeong Ji-seok and Kwak Seung-seok played partially, while libero Oh Eun-ryul missed the final match.

However, it was a good thing that the players who were not on the court much, such as Lim Dong-hyuk, Lee Jun, Jeong Jung-yong, and Jeong Jin-hyuk, were motivated by their performances in the tournament.

Korean Air’s starting lineup for the final match consisted of apogee spiker Lee Jun, outside hitters Jung Jeong-yong and Kwak Seung-seok, middle blockers Shin Jin-wi and Kim Min-jae, setter Jung Jin-hyuk, and libero Song Min-geun.

The Mongolian Bayang Hongor attacked in the absence of Bayarsaihan with the help of Batsuri Batur and Kangal Tamira, who challenged for the Asian quarterfinals.

Jeong Jung-yong goes for an attack. 안전놀이터 (C)Asian Volleyball Federation

At the start of the first set, Korean Air’s attack was repeatedly blocked by their opponents, leaving them down 3-10. Kim Min-jae then scored back-to-back points, but three consecutive center attacks were blocked.

Korean Air closed the gap to 8-11 with a service ace from Kwak Seung-seok and an attack error from Tamira.

A blocking point by Jeong Jin-wi and three consecutive service aces by Jeong Jin-hyuk gave Korean Air a 15-13 lead, which it maintained until Jeong Jung-yong’s back row kill gave Korean Air a 21-20 lead. Korean Air won the first set with an attacking point by Jung and a blocking point. The score was 25-21.

The second set was tightly contested until 14-14. Korean Air then took a one-point lead with a skillful kill by Jung Jin-hyuk, and then took a 19-18 lead with a late hit by Jung Jung-yong. The scoreboard showed 22-20 after another center point from Kim Min-jae.

Entering the final set, Korean Air touched set point at 24-22 after a clever kill by Kwak Seung-seok and a left-handed strike by Jeong Jung-yong. Lee Jun closed out the set with a neat kill. The score was 25-23.

The third and final set. With the momentum in their favor, Korean Air jumped out to a 14-7 double-digit lead thanks to a hard hit by Jeong Jung-yong, a service point by Jeong Jin-hyuk, and a bull-rocking point by Jeong Jin-wi. Jin Ji-Wi smiled with another blocking point. Kwak Seung-seok’s block and an unforced error pushed Korean Air’s lead to 20-12 before Lee Jun’s block and an attacking score sealed the match.

It was a momentous end to the Asian Club Championship schedule for Korean Air, which featured seven games in a short span of time with players who saw little action in the V-League last season.

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