KGC beat Hillstate to end winning streak at 15 games

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KGC beat Hillstate to end winning streak at 15 games

Jung Ho-young of Daejeon Korea Ginseng Corporation, left, blocks an attack from Suwon Hyundai Engineering & Construction Hillstate’s Hwang Min-kyoung during a game at Chungmu Gymnasium in Daejeon on Sunday.  [KOVO]

Jung Ho-young of Daejeon Korea Ginseng Corporation, left, blocks an attack from Suwon Hyundai Engineering & Construction Hillstate’s Hwang Min-kyoung during a game at Chungmu Gymnasium in Daejeon on Sunday. [KOVO]

 
For the second time in as many years, Suwon Hyundai Engineering & Construction Hillstate’s winning streak has been cut at 15 games, just one win short of a new league record.
 
Hillstate lost 3-2 to Daejeon Korea Ginseng Corporation in Daejeon on Sunday, with the fifth-place club ending the historic winning streak bid with a phenomenal late charge in the fifth set to take the win.
 
It looked like business as usual to start the game, with Hillstate taking the first set 25-21. The second set went to KGC, 25-22, but the league leaders made them work for it, dragging the set out to 32 minutes.
 
Dropping one set wasn’t the end of the world for Hillstate, but things really started to come undone in the third set, when KGC shut the visitors down 25-18.
 
Hillstate rallied in the fourth set for a big 25-17 win, but the KGC lead was unassailable and a quick 15-9 fifth set locked in the win for the home side and handed Hillstate their first loss this season.
 
KGC’s Elizabeth Ine Barga and Lee So-young led the offensive assault, picking up 26 points each to lead the scoring for the match. Hwang Youn-joo of Hillstate added 23 points of her own, but was unable to do enough to keep the league leaders in the game.
 
Elizabeth Ine Barga, center, celebrates with her Daejeon Korea Ginseng Corporation teammates after beating league leaders Suwon Hyundai Engineering & Construction Hillstate 3-2 at Chungmu Gymnasium in Daejeon on Sunday.  [KOVO]

Elizabeth Ine Barga, center, celebrates with her Daejeon Korea Ginseng Corporation teammates after beating league leaders Suwon Hyundai Engineering & Construction Hillstate 3-2 at Chungmu Gymnasium in Daejeon on Sunday. [KOVO]

 
Sunday’s loss was Hillstate’s first of the 2022-23 season, having won all 15 games since the season started in October.
 
For Hillstate, the start of the season looked a lot like last season. In the 2021-22 season, Hillstate recorded the longest winning streak in V League history, at 15 games.
 
Hillstate was able to set that record on Feb. 22 after beating the Hwaseong Industrial Bank of Korea Altos at Suwon Gymnasium with a 3-1 set score, beating the previous record of 14 consecutive wins set by Seoul GS Caltex Kixx in the 2009-10 season.
 
Hillstate managed to tie that record this season but were unable to push it any further. Had they won on Sunday, it would have been 16 games, a new record for Korean volleyball across both the men’s and women’s leagues.
 
Despite the bump in the road, Hillstate will still have their eyes fixed on the V League title after missing out on the trophy for the last two years despite topping the standings.
 
Last season, with Hillstate just one win away from taking the trophy, KOVO canceled the remaining scheduled games of the season and the postseason as the number of Covid-19 cases was climbing at the time.
 
The premature end to the season meant that for the second time in the last three years, Hillstate were unable to win the V League title despite dominating the entire season and being just one win away from the trophy.
 
Hillstate also failed to win in the 2019-20 season, which was cut short after the first five rounds. They had topped the table that season after winning 20 matches and losing seven.
 
Elsewhere in the V League the Incheon Heungkuk Life Pink Spiders still sit in second place with 39 points, three points behind Hillstate. There’s then a big drop off to third-place Gimcheon Korea Expressway Hi-pass, on 24 points, with the GS Caltex Seoul Kixx in fourth with 22 points.
 
KGC take fifth on 21 points, with the Hwaseong IBK Altos in sixth on 19 points.
 
The Gwangju Pepper Savings Bank AI Peppers, a team newly added to the V League last year, trail in seventh place with just one point, having lost all 16 of their games so far this season.
 
The V League returns on Tuesday as Hi-pass take on the Kixx. The AI Peppers face IBK on Wednesday, with the big clash between Hillstate and the Pink Spiders following on Thursday.

BY JIM BULLEY [jim.bulley@joongang.co.kr]
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