“You can’t have a bad attitude.”
Heungkuk Life’s Marcello Abondanza expressed his disappointment with foreign player Yelena’s performance as well as her attitude as a teammate.
Heungkuk Life lost the away match against GS Caltex in the Dodram 2023-2024 V League at Jangchung Gymnasium on Sunday with a set score of 1-3. The team won the first set 28-26 after deuce, but lost the second, third, and fourth sets to take the three points.
Heungkuk Life, which had its three-game winning streak halted, improved to 18-6 and remained on 50 points. GS Caltex improved to 15-9 with 43 points, closing the gap to Heungkuk Life to seven points entering the All-Star break.
Yelena has been a problem for Heungkuk Life lately. She has been in an extreme slump lately. Until the day before, she was ranked 10th overall with a 40.1% offensive success rate. This is the lowest success rate among foreign players. Her recent form has been even worse. In her last game, a 3-1 win over Korea Expressway Corporation on December 12, Yelena scored eight points and had an attacking success rate of just 20 percent. Heungkuk Life fans even organized a truck protest to demand her replacement.
“If a player is not playing well, the fans may want to replace her,” Abondanza said before the game, “but in our league, the market is not open, so we can’t bring in players at will. We only have one foreign player, so if a foreign player can’t play, we can’t replace him with a player from the bench. There are limitations.”
On the day, Abondanza left Yelena out of the starting lineup in the first and second sets and used her as a substitute. In the third and fourth sets, she started. On the day, Elena scored 10 points on offense, one block and one service ace for a total of 12 points. Her attack percentage was 37.1%. In sets 1 and 2, she had 6 kills on 12 attempts, but in set 3, she had 3 kills on 10 attempts, and in set 4, she had 1 kill on 5 attempts.
When asked after the match why she left Yelena out of the starting lineup, Abondanza said, “It’s because she hasn’t been playing well lately,” adding, “I started her in the third set because of her blocking. When setter Lee Won-jung got injured and Kim Dassol came in, I put Yelena in because of her height, but I don’t think it worked out.”
When asked to evaluate Elena’s performance on the day, she said, “She didn’t play well.” “It’s not a secret,” Abondanza said, “you can help players even if they are not playing well. But not if they have a bad attitude,” he said. After that, the interview ended. A representative from Heungkuk Life later confirmed, “Coach Abondanza said, ‘It’s a pity that Yelena doesn’t have the attitude to help her teammates even when she’s not playing well.
It seems to be a jab at Yelena for focusing only on her recent poor performance. Can Heungkuk Life and Yelena’s partnership continue into rounds five and six, and will Abondanza make a decision during the All-Star break?