“It was a very difficult match.”

‘Volleyball Empress’ Kim Yeon-kyung’s words were true as top-ranked Heungkuk Life struggled against bottom-ranked Pepper Savings Bank.

Heungkuk Life won 3-2 (25-10 20-25 25-22 22-25 17-15) in a close full-set match against the Gwangju Pepper Savings Bank AI Peppers in the women’s Dodram 2023-24 V-League at Gwangju Pepper Stadium on January 1.

In a match that went to five sets, Heungkuk Life secured a thrilling victory thanks to Kim Yeon-kyung. At the end of the fifth set, the match was tied at deuce when Yelena was blocked twice in a row by Park Jung-ah.

Heungkuk Life had an ‘ace’ in Kim Yeon-kyung, who was shaken by Pepper Savings Bank’s fierce pursuit. With the score tied at 15-15, Heungkuk Life roared back to take the fifth set, 17-15, with Kim’s strength and skill adding two valuable points.

Yelena was the top scorer with 34 points (38.75% attack success rate), but Kim’s 25 points, combined with her high attack success rate of 53.66% and two consecutive attacks at crucial moments, were the main contributors to the victory. On the day, Kim became the 16th player in history to reach 200 career service aces.

Thanks to Kim’s decisive performance, Heungkuk Life, which won its eighth straight match, moved to 30 points (11-1). They are four points behind second-place Hyundai E&C (26).

After the game, Kim Yeon-kyung told the broadcasters, “It was a very difficult game. We came out well-rested and had high expectations, but we had a tough game.”

Pepper Savings Bank was led by Yasmin’s 34 points and Park Jung-ah’s 20, but they couldn’t prevent the loss. Although they lost their fifth straight game, they put on one of their best performances of the season in front of their home fans against Heungkuk Saengsung. With the full-set win, Pepper Savings Bank still sits at the bottom of the standings (2W10L/6G), but the home fans are hopeful of a rebound.

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