Pink Spiders super squad could break V-League wins record

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Pink Spiders super squad could break V-League wins record

Kim Yeon-koung, center, celebrates with her teammates after scoring a point during the Heungkuk Life Insurance Pink Spiders' game against Suwon Hyundai Engineering & Construction Hillstate at Gyeyang Gymnasium in Incheon on Jan. 8. [YONHAP]

Kim Yeon-koung, center, celebrates with her teammates after scoring a point during the Heungkuk Life Insurance Pink Spiders' game against Suwon Hyundai Engineering & Construction Hillstate at Gyeyang Gymnasium in Incheon on Jan. 8. [YONHAP]

 
After slipping slightly in December, the Heungkuk Life Insurance Pink Spiders are back with a vengeance, leading the V-League by a big 12 points and narrowing in on a historic season.
 
After beating Daejeon KGC 3-0 on Wednesday night, the Pink Spiders have now won 16 games and lost just three throughout the 2020-21 season.
 
With 11 games left to play, the Pink Spiders are on track to tie or even break the record 25 wins in a single season set by the Hwaseong IBK Altos in 2012-13 season.
 
And the Pink Spiders definitely have the team to do it.
 
Very few sports teams get an opportunity to dominate like the Pink Spiders, home to three of the best players in the league this season. 
 
Before the 2020-21 season began, the Pink Spiders united twin star players Lee Jae-yeong and Lee Da-yeong. Bringing Korea's famous twins under one roof set the Incheon side up to dominate this season, but just to be completely certain, they also brought back Kim Yeon-koung, generally considered to be the greatest player in the league's history.
 
The Pink Spiders started the season strong, winning 10 straight games to top the league with an incredibly unbeaten streak, but things started to go awry at the start of December.
 
The first loss of the season came on Dec. 5, a close 3-2 loss to GS Caltex Seoul KIXX. Immediately afterwards, the Pink Spiders suffered a painful 0-3 loss against the Korea Expressway Corporation Hi-pass on Dec. 13.
 
At that point, the Incheon team looked like it could be in serious trouble. Lee Jae-young had come down with a fever and had to isolate in case it turned out to be the coronavirus. Because they live together, that also took her twin sister Lee Da-young out as well. Foreign player Lucia Fresco was also out with a shoulder injury and the team was starting to show cracks on the court.
 
Kim may be the biggest name in Korean volleyball, but fighting through the match without either of the starting hitters by her side proved too much for her. She had to run more and cover more space as less-experienced stand-in players relied on her more. Later in the matches, Kim seemed tired.
 
Yet they held it together. The Pink Spiders rallied for a couple of games before picking up one more loss on Dec. 29 against Suwon Hyundai Engineering & Construction Hillstate, and then returned in January as dominant as if nothing had ever happened.
 
The Pink Spiders are now on a four-game winning streak and are on track to break that 25 win milestone.
 
Looking at the Pink Spiders’ performance over the past few seasons, they’re desperate to retake the top spot this season with their new star lineup. Having won both the regular season and the championship in the 2018-19 season, the 2019-20 season was quite a disappointment as they finished third.
 
The Pink Spiders will play their next game against GS Caltex, the same team that disrupted their first winning streak, on Jan. 26 in Incheon.
 
BY JIM BULLEY AND KIM HYO-KYUNG   [jim.bulley@joongang.co.kr]
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