The biggest topic in the second round of the V-League men’s division was the endless fall of KB Insurance and Nikola.
The team that went to the brink of winning last season’s championship match lost all rounds. Foreign players who did not play the role of main gun and shaky receiving (6th, 32.08% efficiency), lowered decision-making ability after 20 points, weak serve (6th, set average of 1.125) and various errors that prevent consecutive scoring (1st, 319) , It is the result of the accumulated phenomenon that even if one side is good, the other area is sluggish, and the attack is not balanced. To make matters worse, there was also a confirmed case of Corona 19 within the team. On December 9th, in the second round, he won the first set against his last opponent, Woori Card, but gave up the third set, recording a hopeless eight-game losing streak.
When the team won 3 consecutive wins in the 1st round, Nicola boasted a tremendous attack success rate of 58%~62.69%~77.76%. SBS Sports commentator Choi Cheon-shik praised him over and over again, saying, “The power is so good that if you pass the opponent’s blocking, you will score unconditionally.” The strong blows from the strong upper body reminiscent of Popeye were terrifying. However, the microscopic volleyball of the V-League found a way to neutralize Nicola. Hyundai Capital coach Choi Tae-woong first showed a success story. With custom blocking, Nicola’s attack was blocked first in front of the net, and a defender was placed at the point where the spike was usually inserted. That method worked. In the first round confrontation on November 9, Nikola only scored 20 points and had a 42.22% attack success rate.
After that day, opposing teams responded similarly to Nikola. In advance, the defenders guarded the path where Nicola’s spikes were heading. To break this, diversification of attack routes is required. You have to hit with a cross and a straight line and try a push attack by looking at the opponent’s blocker’s fingertips, but Nicola insisted only on the spikes that hit harder. The more he used his strength, the lower his RBIs and the higher his number of errors. In the end, I even lost my confidence. To make matters worse, Nicola didn’t even have a poker face that hid her expression well. Colleagues and opponents knew Nicola’s state of mental collapse.
After recording 32 points and a 77.76% attack success rate against Woori Card on November 3, Nicola failed to score more than 30 points in 7 consecutive games. In the match against Korean Air on December 4th, he missed the start from the second set. On that day, he scored 2 points and had 2 errors. Even though there were several situations where the ball had to go up to him during the first set, setter Hwang Taek-eui tried to find another route to attack. Since he was the main striker who lost even the trust of the main setter, the replacement seemed a matter of time.
If Nikola, who was only 23 years old this year and has no experience in overseas leagues, could have overcome this hurdle, he would have grown up a notch, but the level of the V-League was higher than the Serbian League. The team couldn’t afford to wait patiently. After the game on the 9th, coach Hu In-jeong’s remarks contained a lot. Coach Hu confessed, “I had a meeting with Nicola after the Woori Card match, but the player himself said he would have a hard time, so I had to take other measures.” Until last season, KB Insurance, which sheltered well from the wind and rain in the large and wide umbrella covered by Keita, was not satisfied with Nicola’s umbrella. Colleagues may open their umbrellas and find ways to help each other, but KB Insurance was not familiar with such volleyball. So, on the 13th, it was announced that Nicola would be replaced. Unfortunately, in the third round against Samsung Fire & Marine Insurance on the 13th, when the replacement was confirmed, KB Insurance ended its losing streak.
Volleyball is a game in which three opportunities to receive, connect, and attack are closely intertwined to create the points necessary for victory. Because of this, there is no way to know exactly which player’s true skill alone produced the result or not. It is a characteristic of volleyball that a player’s evaluation varies greatly depending on who he is with. I don’t know when Ace led the team alone and covered up all the weaknesses, but when he leaves, the gap is easily revealed, even in unexpected parts. KB Insurance has painfully confirmed this this time.
What remains now is the demon called ‘detail’ that will be revealed in the process of Nicola and KB Insurance’s breakup.
After the game on the 9th, coach Hu In-jeong excluded Nicola from team training. Vijena was confirmed as a substitute foreign player. Prior to that, Nicola and the club must draw up a contract termination agreement. As long as clubs and players bid farewell to each other and neatly sign the paperwork, there’s nothing wrong with it.
However, in the case of Nicola, there are many things to consider.
It is a reason for terminating the contract. KB Insurance is said to be a replacement in terms of refreshing the atmosphere. However, if the player does not accept this, it becomes a reason for a contract dispute. Currently, when the V-League replaces a foreign player, it is when an injury or a player has made a big problem. Insufficiency, which is the main reason clubs decide, is not a reason for termination. However, the clubs just covered up other reasons such as injuries as a practice. Players who do not accept this will seek the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB). Currently, the V-League is suing two foreign players over this issue. The FIVB will make a final decision within three years of filing the complaint. As expected recently, a foreign player won one case. Others will come sooner or later. The clubs will be quiet, but there is a high possibility that the practice of kicking out players due to poor skills will be put on the brakes.
Nicola went through twists and turns when she came to KB Insurance. Serbia’s team refused to issue an International Transfer Agreement (ITC) because he signed a contract. Nicola, who really wanted to come to Korea, paid the buyout amount (80,000 euros, about 110 million won) to the club with her own money and transferred to KB Insurance. I decided that if I played one season in the V-League, I could earn more than the buyout amount. However, Nicola, whose contract was terminated midway through the season, will only receive 45 days of the remaining salary. If KB Insurance compensates for the buyout amount to some extent or does not pay more than 45 days of the remaining annual salary, Nicola will have to return home empty-handed. Therefore, there is no reason to obediently write a contract termination agreement. 토토
The relationship when you leave is more important than when you meet, but now between Nicola and KB Insurance, this part is regrettable. First of all, the method of notifying the player of the contract termination was clunky. No matter how difficult it is for players to go through, they have to meet often to explain in detail and give themselves enough time to understand themselves, but notifying them by email is not sophisticated. I know the circumstances of having to vacate the accommodation in the middle of the season for a new foreign player, but it’s the harsh winter. The club told them to stay at the lodging until a new foreign player arrives, but Nicola will have a difficult winter now. At one time, Nicola might feel the change in public sentiment because it is a club that gave him a book containing the story of Admiral Yi Sun-sin as a gift and poured affection for him. It is never easy for foreigners to organize their lives in Korea.
Nicola’s successor Vijena is currently in the Middle East league. He, too, has to cancel his contract with the club and take a flight to Korea. This time, the club is holding the hilt because the player is asking for the contract to be terminated first. If Nikola does not sign the contract termination agreement, it is difficult to issue Vijena’s ITC. Even if the former club demands an outrageous buyout amount, KB Insurance has no choice but to pay. Wearing a Korean Air uniform as the shortest foreign player ever, Villena succeeded in renewing the contract with the team, but said goodbye to the team early due to a knee injury during the 2020-2021 season. At the time, Korean Air took care of Villena staying as long as she wanted, organizing her life in Korea, and traveling.
As he left, he posted on his SNS, “I respect the team’s situation and the club’s decision. I want to say ‘thank you’ to the club for the season and a half I spent in Korea. Keep only good memories. I look forward to the day I return to Korea and I will miss this impressive league,” he said in Korean. It is a beautiful farewell to end with respect for each other in the last moments as well as the good times. What kind of ending story will KB Insurance and Nikola make?