This year is different, Noh’s ‘fingertips’ lead Samsung Fire to third straight win

Professional volleyball team Samsung Fireworks leapfrogged into second place with a three-game winning streak.

Samsung Fire swept away from home against KB Insurance in the third round of the Dodram 2023-2024 V League Men’s Division at Uijeongbu Gymnasium in Uijeongbu, Gyeonggi-do, on Monday, winning in straight sets 3-0 (25-21 25-21 25-22).

With the win, Samsung Fire moves into second place with 31 points (12-5), ahead of Korean Air (31-10-6), which has played one game less. The two teams have the same number of points, but Samsung Fire has the advantage in the standings.

The difference between the two teams in the penalty shootout

The bottom-ranked KB Insurance also gave it their all. It was a close game until the very end of each set, but Samsung Fire had a stronger backbone.

Samsung Fire led throughout the first set. KB came within 22-20, but they reached set point with a late attack from Shin Shin-ho, a timed attack from Kim Jung-ho, and a timed attack from Yosvani Hernandez (née Yosvani).

In the second set, Samsung Fire’s ‘gun’ Yosvani’s attack came to life. On the other hand, KB Insurance’s Andres Biyena’s attacks were mixed as he went out of line or was blocked.

With their backs against the wall, KB Insurance went into the third set with a renewed determination and took a 15-14 lead, giving them hope for victory.

However, Samsung Fire refused to give up the set. Back-to-back kills by Yosubani brought them back into the match, but Kim Jun-woo pulled off back-to-back blocks. An unforced error on the opponent’s serve gave Samsung Fire match point, but Kim Jung-ho made the final attack to secure the shutout victory.

‘Journeyman’ Noh Jae-wook leads Samsung Fire’s surge

Samsung Fire was led by Yosvani with a game-high 31 points, while Kim Jun-woo and Eddie Zagarza (real name Eddie) chipped in with seven points each.

While the stat sheet might suggest that too much of the offense was centered on Yosubani, the actual game was anything but. Samsung Fire setter Noh Jae-wook was very selective and focused, putting the ball in the hands of his most successful attackers in each game.

When Yosubani struggled in the first set, the team used a variety of strategies by utilizing Eddie, Shin Shin-ho, and Kim Jung-ho, and when Yosubani came alive in the second set, the team focused on getting him the ball and kept KB Insurance off the board.

Noh Jae-wook is the quintessential “journeyman” of professional volleyball. A highly touted setter in college, Noh began his professional career by being selected by LIG Insurance (now KB Insurance) with the third overall pick in the 2014-2015 rookie draft.

He was soon traded to Hyundai Capital, where he helped them win the championship and earned a call-up to the national team. However, after three years, he was traded to the Woori Card, and then again last season to become a member of the Samsung Fire.

He was chosen by new head coach Kim Sang-woo to be the starting setter, but after a lackluster start to the season, Noh has bounced back to lead Samsung Fire to the top of the standings. Now a senior player, it will be interesting to see if he will be able to stay with Samsung Fire for a long time.