Rule changes hope to spice up V-League season

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Rule changes hope to spice up V-League season

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Shin Chi-yong, right, poses with Shin Young-chul during the V-League Media Day event at the Riviera Hotel in Seoul on Wednesday. [YONHAP]

The new season of the Korean Professional Volleyball League (V-League) tips off its six-month journey tomorrow as the men’s teams look to break the dominance of the Daejeon Samsung Fire Bluefangs, while the women’s league will feature a new team in Hwaseong IBK Altos.

The regular season of the 2011-12 V-League will run until March 21 with the seven men’s clubs playing 36 games each, while the six women’s clubs will play 30 games each. The postseason starts on March 24, with playoffs being reduced to a best-of-three series and the final series shrinking to a best-of-five series, according to the Korean Volleyball Federation (KOVO).

In men’s volleyball, pundits are saying that the four-time defending champion Bluefangs are still the favorite to win the championship, but they are expected to again face a tough challenge from last season’s finalist, the Incheon Korean Air Jumbos.

“I just hope the Bluefangs don’t advance to the finals,” Jumbos’ coach Shin Young-chul joked on Wednesday during the V-League Media Day event at the Riviera Hotel in Seoul. “We have prepared a lot for this season.”

The Bluefangs succeeded in re-signing their foreign attacker Gavin Schmitt, who was voted the final-series MVP last season. The 25-year-old Canadian, who is the first foreigner to play in the V-League for three consecutive seasons, was also the highest points scorer last season with 839 points.

“Others say that us and the Jumbos are the top two contenders, but this season any team has a chance to win,” Bluefangs coach Shin Chi-yong said.

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Three teams - the Cheonan Hyundai Captial Skywalkers, Gumi LIG Insurance Greaters and Suwon KEPCO 45 - will have new coaches leading their clubs, while the Seoul Dream Six will feature No. 1 drafted rookie Choi Hong-suk. This season, the Dream Six will be managed by the KOVO after Jeonbuk Bank decided not to take over the volleyball team following its buyout of Woori Capital, the parent company of the Dream Six.

Starting this season, KOVO has adopted a new point system. Teams that win matches by two or three sets will earn three points, teams winning by a single set will get two points while those losing by a single set will get one point. The system is used in the Italian volleyball league to encourage competitiveness until the very end of matches.

In addition, KOVO also changed the rule that teams can play two liberos at the same time.

In women’s volleyball, the KOVO have abolished the rule that limited foreign players to playing only three sets per game.


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