He’s been overshadowed by his starter. However, he is looking forward to the new season with great determination.
Hwang Taek-ui (27-190cm) has always been the starting setter for KB Insurance in the men’s professional volleyball league. Hwang was selected by KB Insurance in the 2016-2017 rookie draft and immediately won the Rookie of the Year award. He has established himself as one of the best setters in the league, ranking among the top seven setters in the last three consecutive seasons, and is now in his seventh season as KB Insurance’s field commander.
After the 2022-2023 season, Hwang enlisted in the Korean Armed Forces Athletic Corps (Commerce). This created a golden opportunity for junior setters who hadn’t seen the court much. Shin Seung-hoon (23-195 cm), a third-year player, and Park Hyun-bin (19-185 cm), a second-year player, were expected to compete for the new field commander position.
Shin joined KB Insurance in the first round (No. 6) of the 2021-2022 rookie draft. He played just 12 matches (24 sets) in his first season, but saw more action in his second year, playing 21 matches (48 sets) last season.
“I was able to enjoy the game because I was more relaxed than when I was a rookie,” he said with a smile, “I felt like my ability to read the flow of the game has grown from the beginning, and my game sense has also improved.”
For Park, it was his rookie season. He was drafted by KB Insurance in the first round (No. 6) of the rookie draft last season and played in five matches (14 sets).
Despite his lack of playing time, he saw and felt a lot. “I was nervous and under a lot of pressure, but I tried to learn a lot by watching my older brothers,” Park said. “I especially watched (Hwang) Taek’s brother’s play hard, and I learned a lot of technical things, such as when to use fastballs.”
At one point during the season, Hwang Tae-kyu was sidelined with a back injury and Shin Seung-hoon and Park Hyun-bin had to lead the team. The two players took turns playing for three rounds, splitting time between them. Speaking about the third round, Shin said, “I tried to solve the game by helping (Park) Hyun-bin and each other,” while Park recalled, “We tried to utilize each other’s strengths and talked a lot about what wasn’t working.”
In the third round, both players played the game of their lives. Neither player wasted the opportunity to compete.
Shin was named the Player of the Match on Dec. 13 last year after helping his team end an eight-game losing streak against Samsung Fire. “I was so nervous that I don’t remember how I answered the question,” he said, smiling as he was interviewed by a broadcaster for the first time since his debut, “but my brothers guided me well, so I was able to play with no pressure and have fun.”
For Park Hyun-bin, the match was even more impressive than her debut. His most memorable game was against Korea Electric Power on December 27 last year, when he teamed up with foreign player Bjorna for the first time. “She said, ‘You’re a rookie, you’re going to be immature. You just need to be confident,'” he said, adding, “Thanks to her, I was able to relax in the last set and play comfortably.”
However, he was disappointed that he didn’t get a chance to play in the fourth round. Park said, “I think the pressure was too much and it shook my mentality. I should have overcome it on my own, but it’s a pity,” he said, adding, “I will show a stronger performance in the new season.”
He was encouraged by the way Hyundai Capital setter Lee Hyun-seung (22-190 cm), a teammate of his, made the leap to the main roster. The two played 메이저놀이터 together in the youth national team and have faced off against each other several times in the college league. Park said, “I was very inspired by watching (Lee) Hyun-seung play as a main player,” and vowed to “work on my shortcomings so that I can play more games in the new season.”
Shin Seung-hoon is also looking forward to the new season. “I want to use my height to my advantage and help the team,” said the 195-centimeter setter. “In the new season, I want to show my growth and help the team a lot.” “I want to leave the name Shin Seung-hoon in the memories of many people,” he said.
KB Insurance head coach Huh In-jung has been coaching the two players with a mix of carrots and sticks. Shin Seung-hoon said, “The coach gives me a lot of inspiring words. I’m learning a lot thanks to him,” while Park Hyun-bin said, “He’s a bit strict when it comes to training, but he always watches closely and gives us advice. After the training, he treats me comfortably.”
With the departure of Hwang Taek-ui, KB Insurance’s prospects for the new season are not very bright. However, the two players are determined to defy expectations and make waves. Park Hyun-bin said, “I hope we can finish better than last year,” while Shin Seung-hoon said, “My brothers are also preparing well. I want to work hard with my brothers and break that prejudice.”