The Gwangmyeong SK Sugar Gliders have jumped out to a five-game lead in the women’s division of the Shinhan SOL Pay 2023-2024 Handball H League after opening with five straight wins.

The SK Sugargliders, led by head coach Kim Kyung-min, defeated Incheon City Hall 30-21 in the fifth game of the first round at their home Gwangmyeong Civic Gymnasium on Wednesday, with the national team duo of Kang Eun-hye (six goals) and Kang Kyung-min (five goals) leading the offense and goalkeeper Lee Min-ji making several saves.

With the win, SK Shugles swept the home-and-home series and maintained a four-point lead over second-place Gyeongnam Development Corporation (3-1-1-6), which has played one less game, with a record of 5 wins, no losses and 10 points.

Kang Eun-hye was named the game’s Most Valuable Player for her 300th career point in the league, while Kang Kyung-min, who had five goals and seven assists, moved to 34 goals on the season, one goal behind leader Woo Beet-na (Seoul City Hall).

SK Shugles took a comfortable 8-4 lead at the 13:30 mark after back-to-back goals from Kim Soo-jeong and Kang Kyung-min in the first half, with a goal from Kang Eun-hye. However, Incheon City’s Im Seo-young, Kang Eun-seo, and Shin Da-rae scored consecutive goals to cut the deficit to 8-7.

After being blocked by Incheon City Hall’s solid defense and struggling to make fast breaks, the SK Shoegaze continued to hold onto their narrow lead, but gave up back-to-back goals to Im Seo-young to make it 10-11. After substituting Song Ji-Eun for Lee Hyun-Joo, SK Shoogles found their footing and ended the first half with a 14-12 lead thanks to goals from Yoo So-Jung and Song Ji-Eun.

In the second half, SK Shoegaze continued to play a seesaw game, not breaking the score until the 15th minute, when pivot Kang Eun-hye scored to widen the gap. Consecutive baskets by Kang Eun-hye and Kang Kyung-min and a side shot by Kim Ha-kyung cemented the victory with an eight-point lead, 26-18, in the 23rd minute of the second half.

Back-to-back baskets from Choi Soo-min and a 7-meter throw from Song Ji-eun pushed the lead to 10 points with 1:30 left in the game, and SK Shugles never looked back.

“I feel like the team is getting stronger and stronger as we’ve had a lot of experience before the season, including training overseas,” said SK Shoogles guard Lee Min-ji, who recorded 13 saves with a 39.4% defense percentage on the day. “Not only me, but the team is growing day by day, so we’ll do our best to play well in the future.”