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‘First All-Star in 14 years → MVP glory’ Pyo Seung-ju’s transformation

The star of the show was Pyo Seung-ju (32, IBK Hwaseong), who experienced his first all-star game.

The outside hitter for Team V-Star scored four points with a 40 percent offensive success rate in the Dodram 2023-2024 V-League All-Star Game at Samsan World Gymnasium in Incheon on Sunday. Pyo Seung-ju received 13 of the 31 Most Valuable Player (MVP) votes to be named the Women’s MVP.

“I’m happy to be the MVP of my first All-Star game, and I’m grateful to the fans for allowing me to come out anyway,” Pyo said after the game.

It was the first All-Star Game for the veteran, who has been playing in the V-League for 14 seasons after being selected in the first round of the 2010-2011 rookie draft with high expectations.

After winning the Rookie of the Year award in 2010 and 2011, and winning his third career franchise record with 5,000 digs (200 digs in 2016-2017, 3,000 points in 2022-2023, and 5,000 digs in 2023-2024), it was hard to believe that this was his first All-Star appearance.

Pyo Seung-ju, who won the fan vote with 20,207 votes, was also excited to be named an All-Star. “I’m already in my 14th season in the V-League, and I’m excited and worried about participating in the All-Star Game for the first time,” she told KOVO. “Thanks to the fans’ love and support, I’m going to show my gratitude and show a good performance.”

From the moment she arrived, she caught the attention of volleyball fans by sporting the trademark ‘pouf’ haircut of her teammate, Asian quarter setter Ponpun Gerfard (real name Ponpun), who has been making waves in the women’s game this season.

After a cheerful greeting during player introductions, Pyo Seung-ju made a strong impression in his first All-Star game, earning two votes for ceremony. “I didn’t talk about (offense) at all,” said Pyo, who scored four points. When I was getting ready, I was just talking about my hair and my game. Luckily, the points kept coming early on,” he said. “Ponpun’s head is a trademark, and I think it’s very cute and unusual. We wanted to try it as a team, so I suggested it first,” he said about the transformation.

When asked if he would try it in a league game, he laughed and said, “I don’t think that would be possible,” adding, “It’s an event and I wanted to do something special.”

The day was all the more meaningful for their efforts. Pyo Seung-ju said, “I don’t know how the day went by, but we had a lot of fun. I’m glad that all the players enjoyed it, and I think it will be very memorable.” As for how he plans to spend his prize money, he said, “I think I’ll buy my teammates a cup of coffee. I’m not going to use it just for myself, but I’m going to give it to all the players who played (in the All-Star Game).”

After four rounds, IBK is in fifth place with 11 wins, 13 losses and 33 points. They need to close the gap on third-place Seoul GS Caltex (43 points) and fourth-place Daejeon Jungkwanjang (36 points) before they can look forward to spring volleyball.

“We had a lot of tough matches before the break, but we trained and prepared a lot during the break,” said Pyo Seung-ju, “and we will show a lot more in the fifth round. We have five and six rounds left, and we will do our best to win more points and prepare hard with the players for the final goal of the playoffs, so that we can achieve good results.”

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