Pepper Savings Bank breaks 21-game losing streak

The Pepper Savings Bank Women’s Professional Volleyball team has lost 21 straight games. On Lunar New Year, the nation’s biggest holiday, the team set a new record for the longest losing streak in the V-League Women’s Division.

Pepper Savings Bank lost 0-3 (14-25 12-25 19-25) in straight sets against IBK IBK in the fifth round of the Dodram 2023-2024 V-League Women’s Division at Hwaseong Sports Town Indoor Gymnasium in Gyeonggi-do on Tuesday.

The loss marked the first time Pepper Savings Bank has lost 21 matches in three months since its victory over GS Caltex on Nov. 10 last year. It was the longest losing streak for a women’s team in a single season and a career since the inception of the V-League.

Previously, the longest losing streak in the V-League Women’s Division was 20 games. The record was set by Jung Kwan-jang in the 2012-2013 season, and Pepper Savings Bank, the youngest club in the women’s division, in the 2021-2022 and 2022-2023 seasons. Not only did Pepper Savings Banks hang their heads in shame after losing 20 games in a row for the third consecutive season, but they also set a new record for the longest losing streak.

In the first set, Park Jung-ah scored a team-high nine points, but her attack percentage was only 25 percent. Yasmin, who is supposed to be the main gun, also did not do her job with six points and a 20 percent attack rate. Phillips finished with eight points and Park had seven points, but it wasn’t enough to prevent Pepper Savings Bank from losing.

Fraud was also a problem. Pepper Savings Bank made 15 mistakes. This was nearly twice as many as IBK, which had eight. The vicious cycle of giving up points to the opponent through errors was repeated throughout the game.

Pepper Savings Bank was close to IBK throughout the first through third sets. After dropping the first set 14-25, the team lost the second set 12-25 and completely lost the early initiative.

They couldn’t get over the hump in the third set, where they played better. With the score at 19-20, the team lost back-to-back points to IBK Abe Crombie to make the score 19-22.

Pepper Savings Bank lost the momentum and self-destructed. Attack errors by Park Jung-ah and Phillips allowed IBK to score two more points. At 19-24, IBK IBK’s Pyo Seung-ju’s quick-open offense was successful and the game was over.

IBK won the game comfortably with Abe Crombie scoring 20 points, 32.71% offensive share, 54.29% attack success rate, and 48.57% attack efficiency. The rest of the Korean lineup also played their part, including Hwang Min-kyung with 11 points, Pyo Seung-ju with 10 points, and Choi Jung-min with nine points.

With their second straight victory, IBK improved to 13-14 on the season with 39 points and moved within striking distance of fourth-place Jungkwanjang (13-14, 41 points) and third-place GS Caltex (16-11, 45 points).

In the V League, if the third- and fourth-place teams are within three points of each other in the final regular season standings, they will play a one-game semi-playoff at the third-place team’s home stadium. For IBK, it will be difficult to regain the top spot, but if they can close the gap on GS Caltex and overtake fourth-place Jungkwanjang, they will have a good chance of qualifying for the semi-playoffs.

IBK entered the playoffs as the third-ranked team in the regular season in 2020-2021, but after finishing fifth in the 2021-2022 season and sixth in the 2022-2023 season, the team hasn’t made it to the spring volleyball stage. The bank’s future in the spring volleyball season will depend on how it fares against No. 2 Heungkuk Life on April 15, No. 3 GS Caltex on April 18, and No. 1 Hyundai E&C on April 22.

Pepper Savings Bank is already guaranteed to finish last for the third consecutive year. Even if they win all eight of their remaining regular-season games, it will be impossible for them to catch up to sixth-place Korea Express (9-18, 28 points). Even if KDOT manages to pick up five more points in their remaining nine games, Pepper Savings Bank will not be able to climb out of last place.

If Pepper Savings Bank doesn’t stabilize soon, it could become the longest losing streak in the men’s league. The longest losing streak in the 안전놀이터 V-League men’s division is 27 consecutive losses, which Korea Electric Power suffered in the 2007-2008 and 2008-2009 seasons.

KEPCO also holds the record for the longest single-season losing streak in the men’s division. KEPCO lost 25 straight games during the 2012-2013 season. They finished with a disastrous 2-28 record in 30 regular-season games.

Pepper Savings Bank had a rocky start to the 2023-2024 season. After the first coach Kim Hyung-shil resigned last season due to poor performance, the team appointed Achen Kim, who was the head coach of Brown University in the United States, but Kim abruptly left the team due to personal reasons.

Pepper Savings Bank was forced to search for a new head coach. The team hired Joe Trinty, a former USA Women’s National Volleyball team power analyst and USA Women’s National Team head coach, for the 2023-2024 season.

However, Pepper Savings Bank became a losing team in the 2023-2024 season. The team has been piling up losses that are hard to give good marks to, both in terms of results and content. In particular, the team is still feeling the aftermath of a 2-3 set defeat against GS Caltex in Gwangju on the 6th.

Pepper Savings Bank will take a break until the 15th and then face Jeonggwanjang on the 16th at Anbang Pepper Stadium. The entire V-League is watching to see if the team can regroup and break the losing streak in five days.

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