Relying on “the best middle blocker in the game” Yang Hyo-jin (33) for her team, Lee Da-hyun (21) has been exchanging advice with her fellow middle blockers when she wears the Taeguk mark.
Despite some growing pains with the retirement of Kim Yeon-kyung, Kim Soo-ji (Heungkuk Life), and Yang Hyo-jin from the national team, the “young” Korean women’s volleyball team is moving forward.
Lee Da-hyun is a key middle blocker who could be the future of Korean women’s volleyball.
Along with Park Eun-jin (23), Jung Ho-young (21-over KGC Ginseng Corporation), and Lee Ju-ah (22-Hungkuk Life), the middle blocker left for Turkuye on Feb. 22 to compete in the 2023 FIVB Volleyball Nations League (VNL).
Speaking to reporters at Incheon International Airport just before her departure, Lee said, “I felt limited at the VNL last year. We couldn’t overcome the gap between our strengths and the gaps left by our seniors,” she reflected, adding, “As we prepared for this tournament, I thought, ‘It’s definitely better than last year. Coach Han Yoo-mi and senior Kim Yeon-kyung (who joined the national team as an advisor) helped me a lot, so I gained the confidence to say, ‘Let’s give it a try’.”
Lee is a well-established player in the V-League, and the Hyundai E&C middle blocking unit of Yang Hyo-jin and Lee is considered one of the best in the league.
“In the V-League, senior Yang Hyo-jin gives me advice right during the game. It takes a lot of pressure off me,” said Lee.
Lee also played alongside Yang in the 2021 VNL, her first senior national team appearance. At the time, the Korean national team had a record of 3 wins and 12 losses.
However, when Yang announced her retirement from the national team, Lee played alongside her peers in the 2022 VNL.
South Korea played 12 games in the VNL last year, losing all of them.
“We lost so many games. I apologized to the team and fans for my poor performance,” he recalled.
For Lee, who is in her early 20s, failure is also a motivator.
“When I was preparing for this tournament, I had a lot of conversations with my fellow middle blockers. It was helpful for each other,” he said, adding, “I think our middle blocker’s movement will be better than last year.”
Of course, they know they can’t beat the world’s top teams the same way they did in the V-League.
“Attacks that would have led to goals in the V-League are often blocked by opposing defenses in international competitions,” says Lee. When we were training at the Jincheon Athletic Village, Kim Yeon-kyung advised us, ‘You may have scored now, but in international competitions, the opponent will block this kind of attack.
“Japan and Thailand are performing well with their relatively low height. We tried to increase our ‘speed’ to compete with teams that are bigger than us in height and strength. We are eager to see how well our preparations will work in the VNL.”
Lee is a “studious player. 먹튀검증
She understands the FIVB world ranking system, which awards ranking points for wins, losses and sets.
She knows that she needs to win as many games and sets as possible in the VNL to improve her country’s ranking, which is currently 23rd, and to finish in the top two in Group C of the World Qualifier in Poland in September to qualify for the Paris Olympics.
Korea will compete against Italy (No. 2), USA (No. 4), Poland (No. 10), Germany (No. 13), Thailand (No. 15), Colombia (No. 19) and Slovenia (No. 25).
“I watched and cheered for my seniors as they finished fourth in London 2012 and Tokyo 2021,” said Lee. It is every athlete’s dream to compete in the Olympics,” said Lee. “It is important for me to improve my world ranking as much as possible in this VNL and raise my hopes for the World Qualifiers. I will do my best to fulfill my dream of competing in the Olympics.”