The starting setter, two starting outside hitters, and a foreign player have changed. Woori Card’s rebuild has begun.
In free agency in 2023, the Wizards were bleeding heavily. Nah Kyung-bok, a 198-centimeter outside hitter who wore Woori Card’s jersey as the No. 1 overall 먹튀검증 pick in the 2015-16 rookie draft, made the first move. He left for KB Insurance. Of course, Na Kyung-bok will return to the V-League after completing his military service, but the Woori Card set out to find a replacement. We tried to put the puzzle together.
First, they acquired middle blocker Park Jin-woo from KB Insurance to compensate for Na Kyung-bok. The team then drafted 202-centimeter outside hitter Issei Otake (Japan) from the new Asian quota, and signed Matej Kok (Slovenia) through the foreign player tryout. He is the only “new face” among this year’s foreign players. The 199-centimeter Matej Kok is not a proven player in Korea, but his versatility as an outside hitter and apogee digester makes him a versatile player.
Recently, the Woori Cards have made two consecutive trades to bolster their outside hitters. On May 25, they acquired outside hitter Han Sung-jung from KB Insurance in exchange for starting setter Hwang Seung-bin. Hwang Seung-bin joined the Woori Card from Samsung Fire last year, changing uniforms after just one season. Han Sung-jung returns to her hometown team. After being selected by the Woori Card with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2017-18 rookie draft, Han Sung-jung was traded to KB Insurance in 2021. He is back in a Woori Card uniform.
The very next day, on the 26th, news of another trade broke. This time, it was with OK Financial Group. Woori Card outside hitter Song Hee-chae and OK Financial Group outside hitter Song Myung-geun were traded one-for-one.
With this, Woori Card lost their main setter Hwang Seung-bin, outside hitter Na Kyung-bok and Song Hee-chae, and added a new foreign player. That’s four changes to the starting lineup.
Woori Card head coach Shin Young-cheol told The Spike on the 26th, “It’s not easy to make a new team. It’s a shame because it’s time to stabilize to some extent. Trades will become less and less common. We are focusing on young players. I think the team will stabilize as we go along,” he said.
With new outside hitters Han Sung-jung and Song Myung-geun, Matej Kok and Otake, as well as the returning Kim Ji-han, the team has plenty of options in the front row. Shin also plans to experiment with different combinations during the offseason. He said, “Myung-geun is a player with good offense. He’s also fast. When she joins the team, we’ll see if we want to use her as an outside hitter or as an outside hitter. Otake also played middle blocker until her junior year in college. I’m going to check which position is better. It will be decided by comparing Kim Ji-han’s offense.”
The setters currently include four-year pro Kim Kwang-il, two-year pro Han Tae-joon, and Lee Seung-won, who will return from military service in August. Lee has played eight seasons since joining the pro ranks in 2014. However, he was traded from Samsung Fire in April last year while serving in the military. Shin said, “I haven’t seen his face yet. His ball handling control is not bad. He has more height than Tae-joon. When he joins the team, I’ll see for myself.” “I’m trying to play faster now. That’s what I’m doing in training. I’m also going to watch Seung-won when he comes in.”
The new coach emphasized speed while trying to put together a puzzle with the new members. The clock is ticking for Woori Card as they prepare for the 2023-24 season.