Korean Air’s apogee spiker Lim Dong-hyuk has been on a roll lately. He’s been dominating in the apogee, a position that’s usually reserved for foreign players. What is his driving force?
Korean Air won their match against Woori Card in the fourth round of the Dodram 2023-2024 V-League Men’s Division at Gyeyang Gymnasium in Incheon on Friday, winning in straight sets (25-22 25-14 25-16). It was the first win of the season for Korean Air against Woori Card, who had lost all three previous meetings.
Korean Air, which had been on a two-game losing streak, picked up its first three points of the season and moved into a tie for second place with Samsung Fire (38 points), which has played one less game. Korean Air is third behind Samsung Fire in set points.
Lim Dong-hyuk, who scored 28 points, including 14 in the first set, was a key contributor to Korean Air’s victory. He had a 73.33% offensive success rate. Jo Jeong-seok was also in good form, scoring 12 points (53.28% offensive success rate).
After the game, Lim Dong-hyuk said, “Even before today’s game, we had a big desire to win. If we continue to play with this mindset, I think we can find the right ranking for Korean Air.”
Lim Dong-hyuk gave his team the decisive point in the first set with a crucial defense. At 19-20, he sensitively dug a spike from a blocked stop. He then scored to tie the game.
Commenting on the play, Lim said, “I’m not good at using my feet. I’m not even good at soccer. I think I was lucky today because my foot defense worked well. On a good day, you can do anything,” he said with a smile, adding, “What I need to improve on is how to solve on days when things don’t go well. You have to keep doing that to grow.”
“Afterward, when I was successful in attacking, I looked back at the game and thought about how I could play volleyball more efficiently. “When I listened to the coach’s advice, I realized that I played better on days when I hit the ball a lot,” he said. “The first time I said ‘up, up’ to (one of the players) in half a sentence. I appealed to her, but I didn’t expect her to hit the ball, which proved that she was playing well.”
“After the game, I talked to him and he said, ‘I had no choice but to put it up’ in that situation. I’m going to try to take more responsibility in the future.”
Lim Dong-hyuk had good overall chemistry with Han on the day. “During practice, he keeps asking me to give him good balls. I say yes to everything. He is the best setter in Korea. He always puts up good balls,” he said, adding, “I’m trying to go one step further and handle the ball rather than asking for a certain ball.”
Despite his perfect performance, Lim narrowly missed out on the Triple Crown (three or more kills, blocks, and service aces) by one serve.
“On my last serve, (Kwak) Seung-seok told me in the warm-up zone, so I knew. I wanted to contribute to the team’s victory more than I wanted to win the Triple Crown, so I hit my serve hard,” he said, adding, “There were many matches where we were winning and then we got caught, so I tried to hit the ball even harder.”
Lim recently applied to join the Korean Armed Forces Athletic Corps (KARC). If he is accepted, he will be unable to play in the V-League for the foreseeable future after this season.
“I’m going to take a lot of the credit. It would be a shame to go out with a four-game winning streak, which is really hard to do. I want to keep the success rate like now. I want to imprint the name Lim Dong-hyuk on the V-League and enlist in the military.”
With Lincoln’s recent back injury, Korean Air brought in Murad Khan to replace him. However, Khan hasn’t been able to step up yet, so Lim has been playing mostly at the apogee spiker position.
“Before I go into the game, I don’t think I’m as good as the foreigner, but I think, ‘I have to do it,'” Lim said, “I have to hit, I have to run more, I have to fight more. We have a lot of injuries on the team right now, so the roster is constantly changing, and I need to be able to take over one position and do it consistently so that there’s no pressure on other positions,” he said.
He added, “I came into the game today with the intention of hitting every ball. From yesterday’s practice drill, I kept asking for it. I came into the game with the mindset that I’m going to carry the game, and I’m going to win the game today.”