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Losing a middle blocker, gaining a setter…Samsung Fire’s offseason challenge is dealing with injury variables

Samsung Fire is going all in on “rebuilding its reputation” this season. Things are going well. The team is in third place in the Dodram 2023-2024 V-League Men’s Division with 15 wins, 9 losses and 40 points. This is the best result since the 2017-2018 season, when they finished second in the regular league.

“We will restore our pride. We can’t repeat our failures,” declared head coach Kim Sang-woo, and the team has been steadily piling up wins and looking beyond spring volleyball. The gap between the leaders Woori Card 안전 토토사이트 (15W9L, 44 points) and Korean Air (14W10L, 43 points) is not too big.

However, their momentum has slowed a bit. They finished the first and third rounds of the regular season with a 5-1 record, and the second round with a 3-3 record, but went 2-4 in the fourth round. As a result, they went into the All-Star break one spot below Korean Air.

It was a sweet break that came at the right time. Samsung Fire’s thin roster was stretched to the limit, especially in the final match of Round 4 against Woori Card at Chungmu Gymnasium in Daejeon on the 19th. They won a close full-set match to take two valuable points, but key middle blocker (center) Kim Jun-woo was diagnosed with a torn ligament in his left ankle and will be out for eight weeks. It is unlikely that he will be able to return in the regular season. Samsung Fire’s last game of the regular season is at home against Woori Card on March 16.

Samsung Fire had already been dealing with a power vacuum. Last December, backup setter Lee Ho-geon injured his ankle, and star setter Noh Jae-wook missed the match against Woori Card due to knee pain. As the expression goes, “volleyball is a setter’s game”. Luckily, there was no shortage of alternatives. Rookie Lee Jae-hyun, the third setter, made his first start and successfully completed the match against Woori Card.

Samsung Fire’s offseason challenge is clear. Deal with the injury variable. To get more out of their setters, they need to keep Lee Jae-hyun’s energy and chemistry with his teammates, and maximize the rhythm of Asia Quarter Eddie, an outside spiker-turned-middle blocker, and another middle blocker acquired in a midseason trade.
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“Even if we had a little bit of a slump, the players created a situation where we were able to defy expectations and compete for the top spot. It’s the same with the current crisis. We can turn it around,” Kim said.

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