V League title race remains tight as Hillstate and Pink Spiders win again

Suwon Hyundai Engineering & Construction Hillstate players celebrate during a V League game against Gimcheon Korea Expressway Hi-Pass at Suwon Gymnasium in Suwon, Gyeonggi on Saturday. [YONHAP]

The 2023-24 V League title race remained competitive last week with league leaders Suwon Hyundai Engineering & Construction Hillstate and second-place Heungkuk Life Insurance Pink Spiders maintaining a three-point gap.  After the two sides’ head-to-head clash that ended with a perfect 3-0 victory for the Pink Spiders on Feb. 12, Hillstate had to secure at least a 3-2 win against sixth-place Gimcheon Korea Expressway Hi-Pass on Saturday to keep the front-runner position.  And that is exactly what happened at Suwon Gymnasium in Suwon, Gyeonggi. The lead constantly changed hands through to the end of the deciding fifth set, with both sides showing a formidable attack.  Hi-Pass’s Vanja Bukilic scored 37 points alone as the game’s top scorer, but Hillstate’s Laetitia Moma Bassoko scored 28 points and Yang Hyo-jin recorded 24 points to claim the 3-2 victory and two points.  In the V League, the margin of victory determines how many points a team takes from the game, with a 3-0 or 3-1 win earning three points. If the score ends 3-2, the winning team takes two points and the losing team also earns one point.
Another loss for Hillstate and a 3-0 or 3-1 win for the Pink Spiders would have changed the two sides’ standings on the league table.  
The Pink Spiders, however, only managed to maintain the three-point gap after recording a 3-2 win over the Hwaseong IBK Altos on Thursday at home.  In the absence of new signee Willow Johnson, who is out with a knee injury, the Pink Spiders were unable to fully dominate, but ace Kim Yeon-koung scored 31 points alone to secure an important two points. With only three points separating the Pink Spiders and Hillstate and seven remaining league games for both as of Monday, there is still plenty of time for the Incheon side to snatch the front-runner spot and defend the league title.  The mid-table battle also looks fierce, with only four points separating third-place Daejeon Jung Kwan Jang Red Sparks and fifth-place Altos as of Monday.  The Red Sparks snatched third place from the Kixx last week after winning Friday’s game against Gwangju Pepper Savings Bank AI Peppers 3-1. The Kixx, meanwhile, earned zero points after Wednesday’s 3-1 loss to Hi-Pass and Sunday’s 3-0 loss to the Altos.  As for the Red Sparks, this season may be an opportunity for them to play in the postseason for the first time since the 2016-17 campaign.  At the bottom of the table, the Peppers extended the longest single-season losing streak in women’s V League history to 22 games after that 3-1 loss to the Red Sparks.  
The loss locked in a last-place finish for the Peppers for a third straight season. Founded in 2021, the Peppers have never seriously challenged their fellow competitors.  The Gwangju side has not shown notable improvements so far this season despite reinforcing the squad ahead of the 2023-24 campaign, having secured only two wins so far.  Former Hi-Pass ace and national team captain Park Jeong-ah’s impact on the team has not been visible, nor has the influence of new head coach Joe Trinsey.  The V League will continue this week with the Peppers facing the Pink Spiders in Incheon on Tuesday. The Kixx and Red Sparks will then clash the following day in central Seoul.  The 2023-24 regular season will end on March 17, followed by the postseason that runs through April. the postseason consists of the playoffs and the championship. The league runners-up and the third-place team first play in the playoffs to reach the championship where they will face the league winners.The so-called, “semi-playoffs” takes place when the gap between the third and fourth-place teams is three points or less. The winner then reaches the playoffs to face the runners-up from the 카지노사이트 league.  


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