Hyundai Hillstate beat GS Caltex to take 2021 KOVO Cup
Suwon Hyundai E&C Hillstate won the Korean Volleyball Federation (KOVO) Cup on Sunday, beating reigning champions GS Caltex Seoul KIXX in the final to reclaim the title.
Hillstate won the final of the women's KOVO Cup 3-0, beating GS Caltex 25-23, 25-23, 28-26 in one hour and 41 minutes at Uijeongbu Gymnasium in Uijeongbu, Gyeonggi to claim the Suwon's club fourth cup title, tying with GS Caltex for the league record. Hillstate last won the KOVO Cup in 2019.
Hillstate took control of the game from the start of the first set, driving in some powerful serves to take an early lead. In the second set it became clear that new manager Kang Sung-hyung had constructed the team's offensive around Jeong Ji-yun, and that approach clearly worked.
Jeong, who was part of the fourth-place finishing Korean national team at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, led Hillstate's attack and GS Caltex struggled to find a way to respond. Although the score remained tight throughout all three sets, Hillstate kept the upper hand to take a confident 3-0 win.
Jeong led the scoring for Hillstate with 17 points, followed by Yang Hyo-jin with 12 points and Hwang Min-kyung with 11. Jeong was named MVP for the game. The MIP award, given to a player from the losing side, went to Kang So-hwi, while Hillstate's Lee Da-hyun won the Rising Star award.
Hillstate won nearly every game en route to the final on Sunday, beating the Incheon Heungkuk Life Pink Spiders on Monday, the Hwaseong IBK Altos on Tuesday and Korea Expressway Corporation Hi-Pass on Saturday. The only game Hillstate lost was to Daejeon KGC on Thursday.
Sunday's result comes as a much-needed shot of redemption for Hillstate, who finished the 2020-21 V League season in last place with just 11 wins and 19 losses. GS Caltex topped the table with 20 wins and 10 losses, going on to win the V League championship title as well.
The KOVO Cup is a pre-season tournament separate from the V League season. Both tournaments are operated by KOVO, but the results of the cup have no impact on the regular season, which typically begins in October. Due to the nature of the one-week tournament, the result of the KOVO Cup often does not reflect how well teams are likely to do in the regular season.
The women's KOVO Cup follows the men's tournament last week. The Seoul Woori Card Wibees beat the Ansan Ok Saving Bank Rush&Cash in straight sets on Aug. 22 to win the cup.
BY JIM BULLEY [firstname.lastname@example.org]