‘Fearless maknae’ Pepper, how many wins can he win?
After the opening of the season, Hyundai Engineering & Construction Hillstate, which continued its solo system with 15 consecutive wins, faced a crisis after foreign player Yasmin Bedardt suffered a back injury. In the first 8 games after Yasmin’s departure, the team did relatively well with 6 wins and 2 losses, but in the last 5 games where veteran players such as Hwang Yeon-ju lost their stamina, the decline is evident with 1 win and 4 losses. Hyundai E&C tried to change the atmosphere by replacing the foreign player with Ivone Montaño, but Montaño has yet to show the power of Yasmin.
In particular, the 2-3 defeat suffered by AI Peppers, the lowest ranked Pepper Savings Bank, on the 10th was very painful for Hyundai E&C. This is because Hyundai E&C has maintained an absolute advantage with 9 wins against Pepper Savings Bank, which has participated in the V-League since last season. On the other hand, Pepper Savings Bank gained the confidence to win against any team by winning a thrilling victory against leading Hyundai E&C, which even had a new foreign player, Montaño.
Of course, Pepper Savings Bank is still in an unrivaled bottom position with 3 wins, 24 losses and 9 points from 27 games this season. Although it is not arithmetically impossible to get out of last place yet, considering the fierce competition for the middle ranks and the objective history of Pepper Savings Bank, the probability that Pepper Savings Bank will rank at the bottom for two consecutive seasons is very high. Can Pepper Savings Bank, which has been on the rise by defeating Hyundai E&C, add a few more wins in the remaining 9 games to raise hopes for the next season?
3 wins last season, 10 consecutive losses this season
Pepper Savings Bank’s first coach Kim Hyung-sil set the goal of “season 5 wins” ahead of the 2021-2022 season, which is the first time participating in the V-League. Even though it was a new team that was officially founded only a month ago, Pepper Savings Bank had many players with V-League experience, including first-place foreign player Elisabeth Ine Barga (KGC Ginseng Corporation), Ha Hye-jin, and Lee Han-bi. Therefore, there were many expectations that 5 wins in 36 regular league games would be enough.
In fact, even when Pepper Savings Bank won its first win by defeating IBK Industrial Bank Altos in the last game of the first round, five wins in the season seemed a sufficiently possible goal. This is because you don’t have to think hard and you can win up to 6 wins in the season even if you win 1 win in each round. However, Pepper Savings Bank suffered 17 consecutive losses after its first victory until it won its second victory against IBK again in the last game of the 4th round.
In the end, Pepper Savings Bank finished its first season in the V-League with a record of 3 wins, 28 losses and 11 points in 31 games until the season ended early due to Corona 19. If you played the remaining 5 games normally, you can assume that you may have achieved the goal of 5 wins for the season, but you would have thought that the remaining 5 teams who finished the season without playing against Pepper Savings Bank also missed an easy 1 win. As much as that, the difference in power between the existing teams and the new club Pepper Savings Bank was clear.
After the 2021-2022 season, Pepper Savings Bank, which failed to achieve its goal in the first season, replaced the foreign player from Elisabeth with Nia Reid, the Brazilian league’s top scorer, and recruited Lee Go-eun setter from the FA market. Here, in the rookie draft, the tallest player (195 cm) in the V-League history, Mongolian Yeom Er-Hung, was nominated as the first overall pick. Head coach Kim Hyeong-sil먹튀검증set the goal of winning 10 seasons ahead of this season based on his strength and experience accumulated over the course of one season.
However, there were many differences between the ideal and the reality. Nia Reid, a foreign player who was expected to dominate the V-League, was disappointing in her early performances, and setter Lee Go-eun, who was recruited at a great price, seemed to need time to get along with her teammates. Rookie center Yeom Er-Hung underwent knee surgery and ended the season early without scoring a single point in two games. In the end, Manager Kim Hyung-sil of Pepper Savings Bank voluntarily resigned on November 29 last year after losing 10 consecutive games.
2 wins in last 5 games after 17 consecutive losses
Pepper Savings Bank appointed Lee Kyung-soo as acting coach after manager Kim Hyung-sil resigned. Pepper Savings Bank also had GS Caltex KIXX, Ginseng Corporation, and veteran coach Lee Seong-hee who led the women’s national team, but the club selected 43-year-old coach Lee Kyung-soo as the acting manager in consideration of the team’s color with many young players. However, Pepper Savings Bank suffered an additional 7 consecutive losses under the acting manager Lee Kyung-soo system, and the number of consecutive losses increased to ’17’.
On the last day of 2022, Pepper Savings Bank, which was approaching the record for the most consecutive losses (20 consecutive losses) in the V-League established by Ginseng Corporation in the 2012-2013 season, won the first win of the season by defeating Korea Expressway Corporation High Pass with a set score of 3-1. Pepper Savings Bank lost 4 times in a row again in the new year, but on January 23, it defeated GS Caltex 3-1 and presented home fans with a thrilling first victory. Of course, it was far from the ranking competition early, but it was a very valuable two victories for Pepper Savings Bank.
And on the 10th, Pepper Savings Bank met Hyundai E&C, which has never lost its leading position since the opening of the season with a record of 21 wins and 5 losses this season. Most volleyball fans expected a complete victory for Hyundai E&C, but the result was a 3-2 victory for Pepper Savings Bank, which persistently bit Hyundai E&C. It was a victory won after nine defeats against Hyundai E&C since last season. Boldly confronting head-on without fear of defeat brought about a cataclysm that no one expected.
Pepper Savings Bank will challenge the first consecutive win against the second-place Heungkuk Life Insurance Pink Spiders, who failed to take the lead by losing to Industrial Bank of Korea on the 15th. However, after two victories this season, Pepper Savings Bank has always suffered a lethargic 0-3 defeat in the next game. Aside from the result, the content of the game itself was far from what was shown in the winning game. The match against Heungkuk Life Insurance can also be lost in an instant if you are intoxicated with the victory in the previous game and play complacently.
Pepper Savings Bank needs to win 7 out of the remaining 9 games to make up for the 10 wins set by former manager Kim Hyung-sil this season. Considering the history of Pepper Savings Bank, it is a goal that seems very difficult in reality. However, if Pepper Savings Bank plays the rest of the season with the fighting spirit and mindset shown in the three games they won, they can secure more victories in the future. And as much as Pepper Savings Bank wins during the remainder of the season, fans’ hopes and expectations for the future will grow.