Shin Young-seok, thumbs up to Im Sung-jin for his one-man show

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Men’s professional volleyball’s KEPCO won its fifth straight match. Team captain Shin Young-seok (37) praised Shin Sung-jin (24).

KEPCO came from behind to win the second round home match of the 2023-24 Dodram V League Men’s Division against Samsung Fire 3-1 (14-25, 25-23, 25-22, 25-20) at Suwon Indoor Gymnasium on Monday. After being heavily outplayed in the first set, the hosts turned the tide early in the second set with an attack by Tyson Dull and a block by Shin Young-seok. In the decisive third set, ‘homegrown ace’ Lim Sung-jin put on a ‘one-man show’ to secure the victory. After losing 1-5 in the first round, KEPCO finished the second round with a 5-1 victory to improve its winning percentage to 5 percent. With 18 points, they remain in fifth place with no points difference from fourth-place OK Financial Group.

Tice did his part with 30 points, while Shin Young-seok kept opposing gunman Yosvani Hernandez from getting open at every turn. The player who shined the brightest was Im Seong-jin. A key player in KEPCO’s recent winning streak, he made back-to-back exquisite open attacks at 21-21 in the third set to make it 23-21 and then blocked Yosvani’s back attack to save set point (24-21). KEPCO clinched the all-important third set with a last-second kill by Tice, and then came from behind in the fourth set to take the match by three points.

After the match, Kwon Young-min, KEPCO’s head coach, praised the setter’s choice in the third set, saying, “Lee Ho-gan (who is relatively short) became a blocking matchup, and Ha Seung-woo (the setter) sent her well.” However, he didn’t see anything special in the performance, saying, “Im Seong-jin is a player who always makes you expect more, and she will do better.” Lim also didn’t attach much significance to her performance, saying after the match, “You have to score points (in situations where you have a height advantage).”

Team leader Shin Young-seok praised Lim. “Both her physical and mental strength were shaken by the national team schedule, and she didn’t play her (normal) game in the first round,” he said, “but she came back to life in the second round, and our team was able to improve.

Commenting on his third-set performance, Shin Young-seok said, “He’s usually quiet, but when he’s on the court, he’s different. He’s a real man. An ace has to do his job in important situations. He’s doing that. I don’t know how much more he will grow.”

Now that she’s gone from Rising Star to the team’s homegrown ace, Im Sung-jin has been working hard to make changes outside of her game, gesturing with her hands to project more confidence. With Lim back in form, KEPCO will look to make it six straight wins against KB Insurance on March 2.

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