The stage is set for growth, and young setters are taking charge.

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The Pro Volleyball Cup is an opportunity for growth, with no foreigners playing and many of the main players taking a break from competition to focus on their bodies. It’s a time for younger players who don’t get much of a chance in the league to hone their skills on the court.

GS Caltex setter Kim Ji-won (22) has an extra weight on her shoulders. Starting setter Ahn Hye-jin (25) is out for the season after undergoing surgery for a dislocated shoulder joint earlier this month. She won’t be able to return until March next year. Kim Ji-won will have a lot of work to do, not only in the Cup, but also in the V-League, which starts in October.

After Ahn’s injury, GS Caltex signed former Philippine national team setter Iris Tolenada as their Asian quarterback, but it’s unclear how much of an impact she will have. Due to the nature of the position, she will need time to gel with the existing players. To be fair, Tolenada isn’t exactly Plan A either. With Ahn’s departure, GS Caltex hastily replaced Indonesian attacker Medi Yoku, whom they had selected in the Asian Quarterly Draft, with Thai national team setter Soraya Pomra, and then replaced Pomra with Tolenada. “I heard that she was pregnant,” explained GS Caltex head coach Cha Sang-hyun.

With Tolenada still an unknown quantity, Kim Ji-won’s growth is essential to fill the void left by Ahn Hye-jin.

She’s off to a good start. In the first match of the Gumi Dodram Cup professional volleyball tournament at Park Jung-hee Gymnasium in Gumi, North Gyeongsang Province, on Sept. 30, Kim Ji-won had an uneventful game against Thai invitational team Supreme Chonburi. “I’ve accumulated a lot of vacation days, so I can’t say I’m overwhelmed,” Kim said. Kim joined GS Caltex with the first pick of the first round of the 2020 Draft. In this year’s Volleyball Nations League (VNL), she made the national team for the first time in her career. The rest is up to her.

Korea Expressway Corporation setter Ahn Yerim, 22, also has a chance. The 22-year-old setter has been left to carry the load in the cup tournament due to the prolonged ankle injury of main setter Lee Yoon-jung.

Ahn raised expectations with her impressive performance in last year’s Cup, but once the league started, she was unable to play a prominent role.

Anyerim played a full set as a setter against Pepper Savings Bank in the 29th Cup. However, her manager’s assessment was sobering. “Her ball flight was inconsistent, and her height was shaky,” said Kim Jong-min, head coach of the Road Corporation. Ahn Yerim was also disappointed. She said she tried to utilize as many different attacking options as possible, but was unable to do so as the game got closer and she was psychologically overwhelmed. 안전놀이터

Anyerim said that she prepared for the season with the mindset of “throwing everything away and starting anew.” He is determined not to repeat the mistakes of the previous season, when he lost his flow when things didn’t go his way.

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