A team that changed all of its starters raced to three straight wins to open the season. It was all according to plan for Shin Young-cheol, the winningest coach in the V-League.
The men’s volleyball team changed its roster ahead of the season. Ace Na Kyung-bok, who became a free agent, moved to KB Insurance and received Park Jin-woo as compensation. Re-signed setter Hwang Seung-bin was traded to KB Sonbo for Han Sung-jung. Outside hitter Song Hee-chae went to OK Financial Group in exchange for Song Myung-geun. Foreign players Matej Kok (Slovenia) and Issei Otake (Japan) were also added. That’s a whopping five out of seven starters.
It’s not the first time. Shin Young-cheol has made trades and reorganized the roster almost every year. Fans were disappointed with the successive departures of franchise players, but Shin explained that it was “a way to build a better roster.” The team has never made the postseason before. In fact, the Woori Cards, who had never made the postseason before, have transformed into a spring volleyball regular, finishing in the top three in the regular season every year since Shin took over.
But never has the transformation been as dramatic as this season. Shin himself said, “Our team is trying to change to the level of a rebuilding team.” “We were categorized as a bottom-tier team, but if outside hitter Kim Ji-han and setter Han Tae-joon develop, we can move up,” Shin said.
Shin’s words are coming true. The Woori Card swept OK Financial Group 3-1 in their opening match, followed by wins over Samsung Fire and KB Insurance. The team has now won its opening three games in a row since its inception. “It’s a result of the players’ hard work in training,” said head coach Shin Young-cheol.
At the center of the change is Han Tae-joon. Han joined the Woori Card last year as the fourth overall pick in the first round after graduating from Suseong High School. It’s rare for a setter with so much experience to come to the pro ranks without playing at the collegiate level. However, in just two years, a 19-year-old setter has been selected as a starter.
Tae-joon Han was never nervous, distributing the ball smoothly and leading the team on a winning streak. Shin Young-cheol, the former Seongnam coach who picked Han Tae-joon, said, “He has talent, but he also follows the bench instructions well. He doesn’t have to put any pressure on himself, he just needs to play like he is now.”먹튀검증
The ‘hawk’s eye’ that sees through players’ abilities is still there. Matei, the last foreign player selected, has been performing beyond expectations. The Japanese international was converted to a middle blocker, a position the team lacked, and has successfully adapted. Kim Ji-han, a former bench player at KEPCO, has grown into an imposing face of the team.
After playing for Korean Air (February 2010-January 2013), KEPCO (April 2013-April 2017), and Woori Card (April 2018-Present), Shin has left his mark on professional volleyball history. With 276 career wins (214 losses), he tied the record for most wins by a V-League head coach held by former Samsung Fire coach Shin Chi-yong. He needs one more win to set a new record.
“I’m grateful to the club and the players for choosing me and giving me a chance,” said Shin. Records are meant to be broken, but it’s a little greedy to keep extending this record for a long time so that others can’t break it,” he said.