Korean Air’s men’s professional volleyball team took another knee to top-ranked Woori Card, failing to regain the lead. Ace Jung Ji-seok (195 cm) returned to the court after a long injury, but the timing of Lincoln Williams’ (registered name Lincoln-200 cm) return from injury is unknown.
Korean Air suffered an away loss against Woori Card in the third round of the 2023-2024 Dodram V-League Men’s Division at Jangchung Gymnasium in Seoul on July 7. The team won the first set, but lost the match in straight sets (26-24 23-25 23-25 22-25).
“I was disappointed that we didn’t score when it mattered,” head coach Tomi Tilikainen said after the game. “It was a disappointing loss, but there are no excuses,” he added.
Korean Air has now lost all three meetings with Woori Card this season. The loss was particularly stinging. A win would have knocked Woori Card off the top spot. Korean Air was unable to catch Woori Card and had to settle for second place in the league (8W5L – 25 points). The gap to Woori Card widened to five points.
“It’s true that the team is not at 100 percent, but that’s not an excuse,” Tilikainen said firmly. “We should have scored and won with the players we had, but we didn’t,” he concluded, “and it was disappointing that we didn’t score at key moments.”
Tilikainen also pointed out that the team should have been more aggressive in their offense, even after conceding a goal. “We didn’t play fearlessly,” he said, adding, “It’s my job to make sure that if we make a mistake, we can shake it off.” “In the future, I will take the fear out of the players and let them shake it off,” he said.
Despite the three-game sweep, Tilikainen wasn’t too disappointed. “We were able to win because we scored a lot of points at important moments,” Tilikainen said, adding that he congratulated the team. “We still have at least three more games with them. It could be more,” he said, looking for a chance to redeem himself.
In the match, ace Jung Ji-seok took the court for the first time this season. He came in midway through the first set and scored eight points. “But the positive thing is that he’s back,” Tilikainen said.
“It’s been a long time since he’s been back, and it was positive to see him on the court. First of all, I’m just happy that he can come in and play,” he said, welcoming the ace’s return. “Now we’ll try to improve him through training,” Tilikainen added.
However, Lincoln’s injury is a concern. Earlier in the day, Tilikainen announced that Lincoln had been ruled out of the game due to back pain. After the game, he said it was “unlikely” that he would be available for the next game.
Korean Air, which dropped its second straight game with the loss, will host KB Insurance on Sept. 10. It will be interesting to see if Korean Air can get back on the winning track against KB after breaking their 12-game losing streak.