KEPCO’s Ryohei integrates into the V-League

“Korean and Japanese leagues? No big difference”

Ryohei Iga, 29, the center libero (specialist defender) of the KEPCO defense, has been a steady defensive force this season, helping the team win games. It’s his first time playing overseas since leaving Japan, but he’s quickly settled into the V-League.

In the fourth round of the Dodram 2023-2024 V-League men’s match against Korean Air on April 1 at Gyeyang Gymnasium in Incheon, Ryohei played sets one through five to help his team win the match 3-2 (20-25 25-23 25-22 23-25 15-13).

Ryohei ranks third in the league this season with a 49.45% receiving efficiency and third overall in digs with an average of 2.75 digs per set. In this match, she had 21 digs, setting the stage for the team’s offense.

After the match, Ryohei said, “I played my first volleyball match on New Year’s Day. It’s a new experience, and it’s hard. However, it was my decision, so I have no regrets,” she said, adding, “I’m happy that the team won.”

Ryohei, who played for the Panasonic Panthers in Japan’s V-League until last season, took on the challenge of the V-League with the introduction of the Asia Quarter. Ryohei was selected by KEPCO, who had the second overall pick in the Asian Quarterly Tryout, to join the V-League.

“I don’t think there’s much difference,” Ryohei said of the Korean and Japanese leagues. There’s always pressure and stress no matter where you play,” he said, adding, “My first priority is to work as hard as I can in the areas I can.”

KEPCO faced a setback in the fourth set when head coach Kwon Young-min was sent off. Leading 17-16, Korean Air’s Han’s serve went out of bounds, but the referee ruled that KEPCO‘s Lim Sung-jin was touching out. KEPCO immediately requested a video review, but the results from the review center were unreadable.

Unable to accept the result, Kwon approached the referee and protested vociferously, slamming the table in the process. After receiving a set disqualification, Kwon left the court.

Reflecting on the umpire’s call, Ryohei said, “There were several shots, and I didn’t understand the call. I’m sure the other players weren’t happy with it either.” “The coach was upset, and I can understand that. It was a very important situation, coming back from a one-point deficit to tie the game.”

“I felt that the coach was protecting all the players. It’s natural for emotions to run high for players and coaching staff in tense situations.”

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