So, it is that time again. The weather gets hot, the semester is almost over and the World Volleyball League starts again. Oh, but wait. I cannot find anything about the WVL on the Internet, but I do find Volleyball Nations League. So I go on a search and find that the FIVB (Federation Internationale de Volleyball) the governing body of volleyball, has a joint project with the IMG, the International Management Group, which is a global sports, other events and talent management company, along with 21 national federations which was the creation of VNL, replacing the World Volleyball League. Though every time I see VNL in my mind I see vinyl. Just can’t help it.
Volleyball Nations League comes with lots of bells and whistles. There were new colorful graphics and catchy songs and actions for: monster block, starting six, this is volleyball, mega rally, ace, set point, super spike (here comes the boom) and challenge, all made out of tiny neon colored floating balls, presuming volleyballs, or ribbons of bright colors. I guess to give volleyball a bright modern new image and compete with other professional sports. There was a lot of high energy music, English and Korean, between the point and the next serve when the first player receives it. The players seem to like the high energy songs because the players on the sidelines were dancing along with the music.
I hate that people think women's volleyball is boring, not as skilled or athletic as men, with powerful spikes and diving I think there is a little more cunning in women's, with tips, aka feints and a little more thinking than just power/ But there was a ton of power too. Spikes were clocked at up to 99kmp. Rallies lasting over 20 seconds, diving, racing up to the walls or falling over barriers, human and material, to get the ball. Women brush off any injuries whereas men really play up their injuries. Or, wait, that's soccer. Anyway, short set spikes, back sets, receiving with a volley, spike jump serve and crazy scrambling after the ball, the ladies do it all. Germany lost 3-1 but almost upset the last set because they came back from 24-20 to closing the gap to 23, but finally Russia got that elusive set/game point.
The Korea-Italy game was equally challenging even with hometown advantage. The Italians were unrelenting in their attack against Korea. I saw fabulous saves, powerful spikes and just incredible game from both teams, but ultimately Italy wrestled a 3-0 win. I lost my hosts to the game, the Korea Volleyball Association, so I didn’t manage to find them to say goodbye because I couldn’t miss my train back to Jeonju. While I was trying to get a taxi, a woman I didn’t know wearing a KVA shirt came up to me and asked where I was from. When I said Canada, she smiled. I guess she was making sure I was not from Italy. Then she offered me one of the little autographed balls the cheerleaders and players throw to fans in the stands. I declined her offer because I already had one but I thanked her for her kindness in offering it to me. There is another game, this time for the men’s team, in June. So more on them later.