The South Korean women’s national volleyball team (ranked 36th in the world) made a strong showing against powerhouse Poland (ranked 7th), taking a set but falling short.
Led by head coach Cesar Hernández González, South Korea fell to the hosts 1-3 (22-25 26-24 21-25 9-25) in their second match of the Paris 2024 Olympic Qualifiers in Łódź, Poland, on Monday (Aug. 18).
It was the second straight loss for the Koreans, who were swept by Italy the day before in straight sets (0-3). Korea is in Pool C with Italy, Poland, Germany, the United States, Colombia, Thailand, and Slovenia, and must finish in the top two out of eight teams to qualify for the Paris Olympics. Realistically, though, it’s hard to see them qualifying. 메이저놀이터
Even though they didn’t get the points, it was still a promising performance. Poland is now coached by Stefano Labarini, who led Korea’s women’s volleyball team to the Tokyo Olympics quarterfinals.
Korea was evenly matched by Poland from the first set. At 19-23, Lee Ju-ah (Heungkuk Life) attacked and Kang So-hwi (GS Caltex) served to score back-to-back points and stayed close. Although they dropped the first set, it was enough to boost their confidence.
Eventually, South Korea took the second set in a deuce battle to level the match. Trailing 14-19, they made a full-scale comeback with a service error and an attack error. A block by Jung Ho-young and an attack point by Kang So-hwi tied the score at 21-21.
Continuing to pressurize Poland, Korea took a 23-21 lead with a net touch error and a block by Lee Ju-ah. They then conceded a 24-24 deuce, but key outside hitter Pyo Seung-ju (IBK) scored back-to-back points to win the second set.
Korea continued to battle with Poland in the third set. However, from the middle of the third set, their stamina dropped noticeably and the tide of the match began to turn in Poland’s favor. After dropping the third set 21-25, Korea scored only nine points in the fourth set and lost by a wide margin.
Kang So-hwi scored a team-high 16 points, while Pyo Seung-ju added 15. Middle blockers Lee Ju-ah and Jung Ho-young each had three blocks.
South Korea will play Germany (No. 12) on Sept. 19 in the third match of the group stage.