The journey begins.

Head coach César Hernández González’s women’s volleyball team will face their first opponent in Week 1 of the 2023 FIVB Women’s Volleyball Nations League (VNL) on June 1 at 2 p.m. ET in Antalya, Turkey.

Turkiye is ranked seventh in the FIVB rankings (299.02 points), higher than South Korea (23rd). She has an objective strength advantage over Korea, including height and power. Korea met Turkiye in Group B at last year’s World Championship, where they were swept 3-0 in straight sets. In that match, South Korea collapsed in the third set without reaching 20 points.

She struggled with her strong serve. They allowed 10 service points to Turkiye. Their reception was shaky and they couldn’t find easy offensive lanes. The team’s top scorer was outside hitter Park Jung-ah with nine points. They struggled with their serve, height, and power.

This time, they will try to rebound. Many ‘new faces’ joined the team. Setter Kim Ji-won, outside hitter Moon Ji-yoon, outside hitters Kim Mi-yeon and Kim Da-eun, and liberos Moon Jung-won and Shin Yeon-kyung, more than half of them joined Cesarho. With so many young resources, the focus is on playing with grit.

Speed is also a keyword. In an international tournament where height and power can be an issue, Korea will need to play fast with fundamentals and organization.

The Korean women’s volleyball team has been on a downward spiral since the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, and while “volleyball queen” Kim Yeon-kyung (Heungkuk Life), middle blocker Kim Soo-ji (Heungkuk Life), and outside hitter Yang Hyo-jin (Hyundai E&C) were at the forefront of a “generation change” as they returned to the tournament, they suffered a 12-match losing streak at last year’s VNL.

This year’s VNL is even more important as world ranking points are at stake. The FIVB changed the Olympic qualification rules starting with the Paris 2024 Games. A total of 12 nations, including host France, six from the Olympic Qualifiers and five from the FIVB World Rankings, will qualify. Gone are the continental qualifiers, which South Korea had used as a last resort to qualify for the Olympics.스포츠토토

The team lost 63.11 ranking points at last year’s VNL, their 12th straight loss. Including the World Championship, they have 85.34 points. However, their final victory over Croatia (worth 8.59 points) saw them drop 76.75 points to finish in 23rd place (148.84 points).

Fortunately, César will be able to compete at the continental qualifier in September this year, as the organizers (Japan, China, and Finland) will be able to qualify up to 24th in the rankings. At the event, 24 countries will compete for six Olympic tickets. The other five will go to the top five ranked teams at the end of the 2024 VNL Qualification Round.

That’s why it’s so important to accumulate ranking points to secure a spot in Paris.

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