Raised eye level, faster footwork… For Kang, international competitions were a catalyst, not a burden

Kang So-hwi shares his thoughts on how his off-season international travels have helped him.

Kang So-hwi was on the court long before the start of the Dodram 2023-2024 V-League. This was due to his non-stop international schedule, starting with the FIVB Volleyball Nations League (VNL) 2023, followed by the Asian Volleyball Confederation (AVC) Cup 2023, the final qualifiers for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, and the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Games.

It can be physically demanding, but Kang hasn’t let it get to him yet. He’s been unwavering in both defense and offense, and he’s leading the team as captain. In the third-round match against Pepper Savings Bank at Gwangju Pepper Stadium 토토 on April 15, Kang scored 12 points with a 47.62% attack success rate to help his team to a shutout victory (25-23, 25-23, 25-15).

After the game, a huge cheer came from the away team’s locker room next to the interview room. Kang So-hwi came to the interview room only after the cheers died down. When we asked Kang So-hwi what the cheers were about, he said, “Originally, we were supposed to stay overnight after the game for 1.5 nights, but (Han) Suzy suggested to the coach that we get two nights. Before the coach could answer, everyone cheered first, creating an atmosphere that the coach had no choice but to approve,” he said. When asked what he was going to do during his two nights away, he replied, “I’m not going to leave the house because it’s cold. I’ll play with my dog,” he said.

GS Caltex and Kang So-hwi also had five days off before the match. It was a much-needed break, as they had been on a tight schedule for a while. “During the rest day, I went to a beauty salon to refresh my mood,” Kang So-hwi said. “Letizia Moma Bassoco (real name Moma) contacted me and said that she was enjoying her life in Yongin (where Hyundai E&C’s training center is located) and told me to enjoy my life in Cheongpyeong (where GS Caltex’s training center is located). It was hilarious.” He also shared a funny anecdote about his encounter with Moma.

At 20-12 in the third set, Kang landed a powerful serve just inside the line and was awarded the point after a video review by the referee, marking her 200th career service point. She became the 17th woman to reach the milestone, and was honored at the end of the match. Kang So-hwi said, “I didn’t even think about 200 serves. I’ve always had a good record on my serve, but it was a little strange because I wasn’t in the top 10 this season (laughs). However, I was thinking about doing something else better rather than being overly greedy with my serve.”

Kang didn’t get much rest during the off-season due to her international schedule, and she’s been asked to play a lot of roles since the season started. We asked him if he had any difficulties, and he said, “The international experience actually helps me a lot. I’ve been able to adjust my eye level to players who are better at it, and the speed of the ball is really fast, so I’ve gotten used to it, and my footwork has gotten faster,” he said. “I think our middle blockers, (Yoo) Seo-yeon and (Kim) Ji-won, are in better form, which makes it easier to play,” Kang added.

After a strong start to the season with a 43.15% attack success rate in Game 1, Kang So-hwi cooled off a bit in Game 2 with a 38.92% attack success rate. However, in the third round, he maintained a 48.18% attack success rate, which was even better than the first round. When asked about this, he said, “I think my physical condition was best in the first round. I felt a little tired, but I’m glad that my record has improved,” Kang So-hwi said, “I’m trying to hold my lower body until the end when I’m receiving, and when I’m attacking, I’m trying to hit the ball as hard as I can when it’s a two-step ball.” He also introduced what he’s been working on lately.

At the end of the interview, Kang briefly talked about the upcoming All-Star Game on January 27, 2024. He said, “I’m the type of person who doesn’t take off when I’m asked to (laughs). For now, I’ll just focus on the league games, and when the All-Star Game comes around, I’ll prepare for the ceremony by cramming (laughs). I would like to thank the fans for their votes,” he said with a smile. Kang So-hwi’s plan is to continue his strong performance in the league first, and then make a splash in the All-Star Game.

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