Korean ‘phenom’ K.Y.K. delivers performance for the ages as Korea cools off PH in 2017 Asian Women’s Volleyball tilt

BIÑAN, Laguna – The Philippines threatened to pull the upset ax against 10th-ranked Korea in the action-packed first set. Until 6-foot-4 phenom Kim Yeon Koung came in, and it was over.

KYK, regarded as the best volleyball player in Korea, delivered her first best performance in the tournament so far, scoring 12 points, including eight in the third set where she practically made mincemeat out of the Filipinas’ defense, to help Korea keep its record perfect with a 25-23, 25-18, 25-12 victory over the host country in the 2017 Asian Women’s Volleyball Championship at the Alonte Sports Arena, Sunday afternoon.

The former Summer Olympics MVP and Best Scorer needed just 12 attempts to register one of her finest performances at the age of 29 and barely two sets to complete it. She came in to rescue the Korean team when the host rallied to pull within just 23-24 late in the first set and almost had a one-woman show in the third set.

“I spoke with the coach and he said to be ready for today. The game was close in the first and second set so I expected to play,” said KYK, who was also the Best Outside Spiker in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Japan last year.

KYK, who just played only on her second game in this tournament, also got plenty of help from veteran players Yang Hyo Jin and Kim Hee Jin, who scored 13 and 11 points respectively, to cool off an early Philippine’s sizzle en route to their fourth straight win.

“I think the gym, the crowd was really really good. Our team was really pressured because of the people. After first and second set, we had our rhythm. It was better so we won today,” added KYK.

Jaja Santiago, Alyssa Valdez, Jovielyn Gonzaga, Mika Reyes, and Abby Maraño fired early in the first and second set to help the 79th-ranked Philippines stay at bay but consecutive service errors ultimately took a toll on them as the Koreans took a 2-0 set lead, before KYK dominated in the final frame.

Santiago top-scored for the Philippines with 10 points but was held scoreless in the third set, while Valdez struggled as she tallied just seven points.

Gonzaga and Maraño, who both keyed a late Philippine’s 4-0 run in the opening frame, finished with seven and four points, respectively.

Maraño had three service aces, the first two during which the Philippines saved four set points to the delight of the crowd.

The quarterfinal-bound Philippine team battles Vietnam tomorrow, August 14, in a match that will determine their final seeding come playoffs. Korea, on the other hand, faces Kazakhstan for the top spot in Pool E. — Julian Rikki C. Reyes

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