V-League finals loom for top women’s and men’s teams

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V-League finals loom for top women’s and men’s teams

For most of the Korean Professional Volleyball League, the 2010-2011 V-League season has already ended. But for four remaining teams - two men’s and two women’s - there’s still the matter of who will be crowned champion.

And so two best-of-seven series’ begin this week to determine just that, with the women’s division’s Heungkuk Life Pink Spiders going on the road tonight to face Hyundai Construction & Engineering Hillstate in Suwon, Gyeonggi, and the men’s division’s defending champion Samsung Fire Bluefangs in Incheon on Sunday to face the Korean Air Jumbos.

The Pink Spiders are trying to capture their fourth title, having last won it in 2009, while Hillstate eyes its first championship since the Korean Volleyball Federation (KOVO) launched the V-League in 2005. The two teams met in the 2007 championship and it was the Pink Spiders who went home with the trophy, beating Hillstate 3-1 in a best-of-five series.

But that was four years ago. This year, it looks like a different story as Hillstate swept all of its six matches against the Pink Spiders in the regular season.

The Pink Spiders do have more championship experience than Hillstate, though, having reached the finals four consecutive times between 2006 and 2009.

On the men’s side, the Samsung Fire Bluefangs will try to defend its title against the regular season winner, the Korean Air Jumbos.

History is against the Jumbos, with the title going to either the Bluefangs or the Hyundai Capital Skywalkers since the league began in 2005. But the Jumbos have the regular-season edge over the Bluefangs, 4-1, and no team has ever worked its way up the ladder from the third seed - the Bluefangs this year - to win the title. But that doesn’t give the Jumbos a license to be careless because the Bluefangs have been on a late run that included sweeps over the LIG Insurance Greaters and the Skywalkers.

What is more threatening for the Jumbos is that Bluefangs left attacker Garvin Schmitt had monster performances throughout the playoffs.

For example, the Canadian scored 57 points in the second playoff game against the Skywalkers, the most points scored in a game by an individual in V-League history. If Schmitt is able to spike the ball just as he did against the Skywalkers, the Jumbos could face some serious trouble. Jumbos coach Shin Young-chul said that defending the Bluefangs attacker is the key to winning the series.

“It is difficult to defend Schmitt’s spikes,” Shin said to Yonhap News Agency. “But if he does lose his rhythm, we should be able to take advantage.”

By Joo Kyung-don [kjoo@joongang.co.kr]
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