Despite losing all three games against Woori Card, the captain remained smiling

Korean Air coach Tommi Tilikainen had a smile on his face after a season-opening loss to Woori Card. Thanks to the successful return of ace Jung Ji-seok.

Korean Air fell 1-3 (26-24, 23-25, 23-25, 22-25) to visiting Woori Card in the third round of the Dodram 2023-2024 V-League Men’s Division at Jangchung Gymnasium in Seoul on Sunday.

Korean Air, whose previous match was a shutout loss to Woori Card a week earlier, suffered a setback this time around and failed to accumulate any points, falling to 8-5 (25 points). More importantly, Korean Air’s three-game losing streak against Woori Card widened the gap to 11-3 (30 points).

In general, it was a close match, but after the 20th point, Urikhardt was outclassed in terms of decisiveness. They were unable to overcome URICAD’s Matej Kok in clutch situations, including the third set, which was lost due to a series of unforced errors while chasing. Lim Dong-hyuk led both teams with 28 points, but his lack of consistency in each set left a lot to be desired.

Korean Air had its own excuses. It wasn’t until the first game of the third round that Jeong Ji-seok returned from a back injury that sidelined him for the entire season until his call-up to the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Games squad. However, there were no major changes to the lineup as another mainstay, Lincoln Williams, pulled out the day before with back pain. But Tilikainen made no excuses.

After the game, coach Tilikainen said: “It’s true that we weren’t at 100%, but that’s no excuse. We needed to score at key moments and it was disappointing that we didn’t. Anyway, we need to be stronger as a team. We need to be more fearless in our play. If you make a mistake, you have to shake it off and get ready for the next one. It’s my job to get the players to shake off their fears and overcome them.”

There was some disappointing news. According to Tilikainen, Lincoln will not be available for the match against KB Insurance in three days’ time. However, Tilikainen’s worries were eased by the presence of Jeong Ji-seok, who made his return to the team and looked good in both offense and defense.

Jung started to come into his own in the third set, scoring eight points with a 46.15% attack success rate and 23.08% attack efficiency. He also had two effective blocks and a 45.83% reception efficiency, giving us a glimpse of what to expect from him when he’s 100%.

Coach Tilikainen said, “The positive thing is that Josip came back and played well. “It was good to see him come in and play today,” Tilikainen said. “Just having him back and playing was good enough for me. Now we have to work hard to make him better through training.”

Despite the three-game winless start, Tilikainen says the season is still long. “We still have three more games on our card. It could be more (in terms of the postseason). So I’m not going to tell you how we’re going to do it.”


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