Age and experience triumphed over youthful vim and vigor at Samsung World Gymnasium in Incheon as the nominally millennial M-Star squad beat the Gen Z Z-Star squad in the 2022-23 V League All-Star games.
Billed as a clash of the ages, the All-Star 메이저놀이터 game pitted male and female squads made up of millennial and Gen Z players — for men the older team went up to players born in 1995 while for female players it went up to 1996 — in one single four-set game with the women’s squads clashing for the first half and the men’s for the second half.
There was an awards ceremony before the match for Kim Yeon-koung and Shin Yung-suk who topped the fan vote.
“I actually thought that I could top the fan vote before it even began,” Kim Yeon-koung, the unsurprisingly confident queen of Korean volleyball, said when asked about whether she expected to get so many votes.
Shin Yung-suk, who has received the most fan votes on the men’s side for three years in a row, said, “I want to thank all the fans who voted for me. I hope they could make good memories with the players.”
The game was played with 15 points each set. The team who had a bigger cumulative set score at the end of the match was to grab a victory.
The female M-Star team included Kim Yeon-koung alongside such players as Kim Hee-jin and Kim Su-ji of the Hwaseong IBK Altos and Yang Hyo-jin from league leaders Suwon Hyundai Engineering & Construction Hillstate.
The Z-Star faced the older group with some big names in the V League like the league’s highest scorer Elizabet Inneh Varga of Daejeon Korea Ginseng Corporation and Lee Da-hyeon from Hillstate, Lee Ju-ah and Jeong Yun-ju of the Incheon Heungkuk Life Pink Spiders and Kang So-hwi from the GS Caltex Seoul KIXX.
The M-Star team were quick off the mark, showing their experience with a 15-10 win in the first set, only to lose the second set 15-10 to the Gen Zers.
The usual half-time contests followed, with Elizabet of KGC and Ahmed Ikhbayri of Daejeon Samsung Fire Bluefangs winning the serve contest with times of 85 kilometers per hour (53 miles per hour) and 117 kilometers per hour each. The best libero contest was won by Choi Hyo-seo of KGC with two points total.
The game then resumed with the male teams left to decide the winner.
The male M-Star team had the V League’s highest scorer Leonardo Leyva Martinez of the Ansan OK Financial Group OKMan alongside Na Gyeong-Bok of Seoul Woori Card WooriWon, Han Sun-soo of the Incheon Korean Air Jumbos, while Shin Yung-suk of Suwon Korea Electric Power Corporation Vixtorm was in charge of the team’s defense.
The Z-Star faced the older group with Ikhbayri of Fire Bluefangs and Heo Soo-bong of the Cheonan Hyundai Capital Skywalkers alongside a trip of stars born in 1999: Lim Dong-hyeok of the Air Jumbos, Lim Sung-jin of Vixtorm and Kim Ji-han of Woori Card.
The male M-Star squad, too, showed their class by winning the third set 15-12, taking the cumulative score to 40-37.
The Z-Stars tried to turn things around and managed to take the fourth 15-13, but lost eventually with the total score at 53-52 in the end.
Leyva Martinez and Kim Yeon-koung of the M-Star team, who led the attack, were both named MVPs.