Korea Expressway Corporation Bae Yuna has been called a ‘volleyball genius’ since she was a child. By the time he was in his senior year of high school, he was already a national team player. Naturally, ahead of the 2007-2008 season rookie draft, all teams put a lot of effort into selecting him. First of all, KGC Ginseng Corporation, which had a turn, expected a relationship with Bae Yuna, but the first team to catch the lucky bead was GS Caltex. Bae Yoo-na, who became a GS Caltex player with the first overall ranking, played an active role as an outside hitter, middle blocker, and a positive spiker due to team circumstances, before settling down as a middle blocker. It is already the 16th season of the V-League. In the meantime, he wore the Korea Expressway Corporation uniform as a free agent player. A lot of time has passed, but he is still showing peak skills and is about to renew his free agent contract again. Bae Yoo-na, who has the highest volleyball IQ in the V-League, did a ‘fact check’ looking back on the path she had walked.
You-na Bae’s name can be easily found in many lists of records, including scoring, blocking, and serving. He is proof that he has consistently shown good performance. Bae Yuna is playing more than 20 games every season, except for the 2019-2020 season when she was injured. He is a representative player who is good at volleyball and has shown steady skills. Since his debut, he has always played various roles as the center of the team. He is only 33 years old this year, but his skills have not declined. He got better. This is the reason Bae Yoo-na’s value is high in the upcoming FA market. He is a natural born volleyball player and ‘Baecheon’.
This is my 3rd interview with <The Spike> after 2 years.
I remember that the short hair period was probably the last interview. When she said that the recruitment came, she thought, ‘Why did the recruitment come in two years, I should have done better so that the recruitment came sooner.’
Do you usually search for names on portal sites?
I don’t do it often on portal sites, but sometimes on YouTube. I was a freshman in high school, and there was a video of (Kim) Yeonkyung unnie and (Kim) Suji unnie when they were in the third grade. It’s so much fun to watch. The opposing team in the video had Han Su-ji and Oh Ji-young (laughs).
A boat? I started in place of my older sister . The reason why I started playing volleyball. When her real sister was little, she was tall. So, her older sister is a 4th grader in elementary school and she said that when I was in 1st grade, coach Lee Byung-seol contacted her sister to play volleyball, but she said her sister wouldn’t. So he said to the director, “I’ll do it in two years.” But really two years later, the director called me. So she decided to play volleyball in one day. But at the time, I didn’t even know what volleyball was, but I thought it would be fun. I heard that my parents wanted me to exercise in the first place. He had a very lively personality, and he liked to play at the time, so I think he wanted to exercise. What is the most memorable moment or record during your career as a player? I remember receiving the rookie award, which can only be given once in a lifetime. As a high school student, I was selected for the national team and experienced the international stage.
I just think I was really young at the time. Just because I was selected for the national team, I never felt nervous or thought I was great. I just thought I was going to go because I was selected, and I would learn while playing volleyball hard. I think I did it with a simple thought rather than a lot of thought.
1st place, winning the championship match and winning
the rookie award in the 2007-2008 season, broke many expectations and joined GS Caltex.
I was in the national team during the draft, but my older sisters expected me to go to KT&G (KGC Ginseng Corporation). Because KT&G marbles were the most common. But the beads from GS Caltex, which had fewer beads, came out first. That’s how I ended up going to GS Caltex, and I think I accepted it calmly.
And he played a big role even before his professional debut.
The other day, it was uploaded to the Korean Volleyball Federation (KOVO) YouTube. I watch it once in a while, but I didn’t think I did well at the time, but after watching the video, I did well (laughs).
At that time, I played outside heater, middle blocker, and apposite spiker, wasn’t it difficult?
Where was the strength of a freshman at the time (laughs). I just went in and did what I was told to do. Of course, nothing was difficult. But just getting into the coat itself made me happy. And in the end, I think it was good because I won the championship match.
What was your main position until high school?
Until high school, I mainly watched outside hitters and apposite spikers. (Is it the first time I played a middle blocker after coming to the pros?) No. The middle blocker did it once in the middle. I didn’t do it consistently, but I did 2 years as a wing striker and 1 year as a middle blocker.
Were there any difficulties in fully adapting from pro to middle blocker?
Of course there was. Because there were many cases where I was a middle blocker that day, then suddenly an outside heater the next day, and then a middle blocker again in the 3rd set. Still, I think I did it because I have that ability. In a way, it could have been toxic, but I think I was able to endure it like this until now because I tried to think as positively as possible.
As I said, he even won the championship match in his debut season.
At that time, our GS Caltex rose to third place. Heungkuk Life Insurance, whom I met in the championship match, had many good players such as (Kim) Yeon-kyung and (Hwang) Yeon-joo 토토. So when I went to the championship match, I thought that there would be good results if I won one game at a time rather than winning unconditionally. In the end, I was able to win because all the players consistently did well. And what I still remember is that when I received in the last game, I was so nervous that I asked (male) Jihyun unnie next to me, ‘Come to me and receive it’ (laughs).
In the end, he also received the Rookie of the Year award that season.
Actually, I think there were a few players who were better than me in terms of records. However, I think they valued the sacrifices and contributions of our team higher than the record. So I wonder if they gave me the rookie award.
It’s already the 16th season. Doesn’t time go by fast?
Even if it’s fast, it’s too fast (laughs). I think it went by really quickly. There are memories of winning the championship in a long time, and there are memories of resting due to injuries. As such time passes naturally, we are already in our 16th season.
The 2019-2020 season was a rough season with injuries.
It was hard to accept at the time. It was difficult due to injuries, and it was difficult to accept because it was the season before the free agency renewal. But when I think about it now, I also think that I am doing well in volleyball with my current condition and good body by taking a break for a year at that time.
Who was the most powerful person at the time?
First of all, my family and my husband were the most supportive. And thanks to the fans who always support me, I gained strength. A lot of people worried a lot, gave me courage, and gave me hope, so I think I endured and persevered.
The 2017-2018 2017-2018
2021-2022 2017-2018 season, which had 12 consecutive wins, recorded an integrated victory in the road construction. What was it like looking back? At that time, the first two or three years were always not good. Still, because we have such good organizational skills, we had the strength to lead to the end. So, from the middle, I thought that I had risen completely. I was able to win because that power went all the way. Im Myung-ok said at the time that he was ‘invincible’. Back then, I think all the players did their part in every game. The sense of responsibility was also strong. If a player is not in good condition, the player next to him has the ability to cover that player’s share. I think I showed a good figure because I had such hardships. Comparing the 2017-2018 season, which recorded a combined victory, and the 2021-2022 season, which recorded 12 consecutive wins.
In the 2017-2018 season, I think I did a lot of cute plays. Due to coach (Lee) Hyo-hee’s tendency, we played a lot of cute and fast games. In the 2021-2022 season, I think Kelsey and (Lee) Goeun got along better than the previous season. It felt like I had stepped up a notch while going through growing pains. (Lee) Yoon Jeong-do was new to the team and helped me a lot. In many ways, it was a season where everything worked together like cogs.
For the first time since winning the combined championship in the 2017-2018 season, we won the BEST 7.
At that time, I thought the flow was really good until the middle of the day. So I thought, ‘Isn’t that why I’m getting an award?’ But in the second half, I fell a lot, so I thought, ‘I might not be able to win the award’. However, I completely forgot about this during the championship match. However, I was happy to receive an award at the end.
If long, I have a long player career, but I have two individual awards. Aren’t you sorry?
I don’t think there has ever been a season that was so unique. Rather than playing volleyball to win awards, I am trying to play my own volleyball. But this season, I also have greed for awards (laughs). But I have to let go of my greed and focus on winning the team.
It is the 8th highest score among domestic players. What does it mean? (3,482 points as of December 12)
First, I think I played volleyball for a long time (laughs). If it’s the 8th, I don’t think it’s too late. I feel proud when I think that I played volleyball for a long time and did well.
Blocking is ranked 6th in all time (773 as of December 12)
. He is short for a middle blocker. To overcome that, I tried to create my own know-how and my own timing, and it came out consistently well, setting records like this.
In November, he also set the 200th career serve record.
I really didn’t know until the game. The game is over, but they come with 200 points written on it (laughs). So ‘what is it? what?’ I did, but it felt like I was receiving a surprise gift just because I had achieved it.
‘Volleyball Genius’ Bae Yu-na is
a nickname I am grateful for
. What kind of sisters are (Jeong) Dae-young and (Lim) Myeong-ok on the team?
First of all, Daeyoung unnie is playing together in the same position, and she manages it so well that unnie is able to do so far. She is an older sister. She shows that she wants to be better than others when it comes to eating and exercising. She thinks that she should emulate that and she imitates. Myung-ok unnie puts in a lot of effort, but I think no one can match her innate part. She is so gifted that she deserves to be called a receiving genius. Daeyoung unnie and Myeongok unnie are really indispensable to the team.
You also run a YouTube channel called ‘Bae-tol and Jeong-sam’ with Park Jung-ah. how did you make it
All of a sudden, there are a lot of people doing YouTube around me. So, ‘Shall we try it too?’ Then, when he said, ‘Then who will edit it?’, he said, ‘I don’t know, let’s just make it first’, so I made it right away. Bae Dool was a nickname that coach Lee Sook-ja and commentator Han Yu-mi called me, an abbreviation of ‘Bae Yu-na or idiot’ since I was little. Jeong-ah says her friends called her Jeong-sam since she was a child. So it was really simply put together.
How did the nickname Baecheon (volleyball genius) come about?
I don’t know exactly, but I think it has been that way since I was selected for the national team in high school and the fans called me ‘I’m a volleyball genius’. It’s a nickname I’m really grateful for.
It may still be a long way off, but what do you want to do when you retire?
Until now, I hadn’t thought of that at all, but now I feel like I’m at an age where I have to start thinking about it (laughs). So lately, I think about it once in a while. Still, since volleyball is what I do best, I want to do something related to volleyball by making use of my characteristics. I could be a coach, I could be a manager, but I want a job related to volleyball.
Finally, please say something to your fans.
I want to say thank you so much to the fans who always silently supported me from behind whether I was doing well or when I was sick. I think it is all thanks to the fans that we are recording good results this season. We will do our best so that we can continue to maintain our current grades, so I hope you will support us until the end.