‘Added captaincy pressure’ Kang So-hwi laughs “Meeting with the coach? I’ve been called a lot.”
GS Caltex’s Kang So-hwi (26) was all smiles after leading his team to victory in his first captaincy match since his professional debut.
GS Caltex swept Supreme in straight sets, 3-0 (25-22, 25-22, 25-18), in the first match of Group B of the 2023 Gumi Dodram Cup Professional Volleyball Tournament at Park Jung-hee Gymnasium in Gwangpyeong-dong, Gumi City, Gyeongsangbuk-do, on March 30.
Kang So-hwi scored 15 points on the day, second only to Moon Ji-yoon (19) for both teams. After being held to one point in the first set on a 10 percent attack percentage, Kang scored seven points in the second set and a team-high seven points in the third set to seal the win.
After the match, Kang said, “In the first set, I was nervous because I didn’t know my opponent well. As a result, the timing of my tosses and attacks were off. But as the match went on, I was able to relax and take my swings, and (Kim) Ji-won set me up well, so I was able to play comfortably.”
The unintentional break before the tournament fueled the active play. Kang So-hwi, who was a standout at the FIVB Volleyball Nations League 2023 (VNL) that ended last month, pulled a muscle in his back early in training in Ibaraki, Japan. “I was tired (after the tournament) and also injured my back, so I unintentionally took a week off, but my body has improved a lot since then,” he said.
The tournament will be Kang’s first time wearing the captain’s armband since being selected by GS Caltex with the first pick in the first round of the 2015-2016 KOVO Rookie Draft. Despite the pressure of being the captain with the weight of an ace on his shoulders, Kang So-hwi showed his determination to handle it with a smile. In his first on-court interview as captain after the victory, he was asked about his goals, and instead of answering with ambition to win the title, he gave a modest answer of advancing to the quarterfinals.
Kang So-hwi said, “I tend to talk a lot during matches, so I don’t think being captain has changed much. However, as a captain, there are more things to convey to the players and things to pay attention to, so I feel a little stressed, but my teammates are helping me well, so I don’t have any major difficulties yet,” he smiled. “I’ve been called in for a lot of meetings with the coach, so it’s not too difficult,” he added.
The cheerful new captain is 안전놀이터 also expected to be encouraged by the head coach. GS Caltex head coach Cha Sang-hyun said, “Wearing the captain’s mark gives me a sense of responsibility that I didn’t have before. Of course, (Kang) So-hwi is not without responsibility,” he laughed, adding, “It may be difficult, but I believe he will do a good job. I hope so.”
GS Caltex, the most decorated team in the KOVO Cup (five times), will be looking to win their second consecutive title after the last KOVO Cup in Suncheon. “When I say we’re aiming for the semifinals, I’m being modest. Of course, we are aiming for the championship,” he said emphatically.