Monday, September 19, 2005

Volleyball Teams - A study in Contrasts

Match number three this afternoon for both my 7th and 8th grade teams.

My 7th grade team played a great match. In the first game they only made 5 service errors, and only 3 service receive errors. Those 8 plays accounted for the only 8 points the opponent scored. They also put together three combination rallys that consisted of a good bump, a good set, and a spike. The second game they only made 4 service errors but had 7 service receive errors. They got a little sloppy with their passing but still passed well enough to put together two more bump-set-spike combinations. For a team with 3 players with one seasons experience and 6 players with no previous experience they have really gotten into the 4-2 rotation and are playing well. The 7th grade won both games: 25-8 and 25-12.

Now the contrast. This is the third season together for my 8th grade team. In practices and scrimmages these 7 ladies play well. They move, talk, and cover the court well. They pass, set and hit. They are good underhand and acceptable overhand servers. But once the whistle blows in a game they all seem to go into "zombie mode". In this mode they move slowly if at all. They don't communicate, they pass horribly, attempts to set are almost non-existant. Spikes when they are attempted are usually on the first or second hit and more often or not in the net or out of bounds. Serving gets sloppy on a good day. On normal days it gets down right ugly.

I have been beating my head against the wall trying to figure out how to get through to these girls. But nothing I say seems to make a difference. They practice well but they just don't seem to be able to take what they do on the practice court onto the game court. I don't know if it is stage fright or just lack of concentration.

Today they lost both games. The first game their serving was acceptable. They had only 4 service errors. They also had only 3 service receive errors. But their court play was really off. Passes were flying all over the place. Sets from the few passes that the setters were able to get to were short or off target. They did manage one bump-set-spike combination in the first game. But that was the sole highlight of the game. The second game got even more confusing. They had 7 service errors and 13 service receive errors. That accounts for 20 of the 25 points scored by the opposing team. It's hard to win when you are giving away that many points for free. The 8th grade team lost both games 21-25 and 20-25.

We play again tomorrow. Without a practice sesson in between games I will hope a can get through to them during warmups. But unless things change drastically tomorrow I think wednesday's practice will be all about serving and passing for the 8th grade. I'm thinking about letting the 7th grade try out the 6-2 offense in practice to see how they do. My two setters would like a chance to hit a bit more and I think that running the 6-2 is the best way to get them stop back row setting each other. However I am proud that they figured out back row setting each other was an option all by themselves.

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