Coaching Log – Mar 16, 2014

This is an entry in my volleyball coaching log.

The first order of business on the day was finding out the tiebreak procedure to be used in the case of a 3-way tie between teams in our group. As I noted in the last log entry, things were set up such that if we beat Bournemouth in our last match and King’s beat Cambridge, we would all be tied at 1-2 and level in the head-to-head comparison after having beaten each other.

Upon getting to the tournament site I asked the tiebreak question of one of the event managers. He said sets between the teams would be the next tiebreak. That meant if we won 2-0 we’d get second in the pool and a spot in the semifinals by virtue of being the only team among the three with a positive set differential.

I’d spoken with the captain about this prospect, but we both thought it was best not to say anything to the team. As I noted, there was already some signs the day before about getting a bit tense when things were on the line Saturday. The players already had enough motivation to draw on to get psyched up to want to beat Bournemouth. Adding a spot in the semis to that mix would have had nothing but downside to it.

I used the same line-up as the one which narrowly lost to Cambridge in the second match on Saturday. We got off to a good start in the first set and carried that through to a fairly comfortable win. The second set was much closer all the way through. We fell behind a bit, then dragged ourselves back level. The teams traded points for long stretches. At one point we missed 4 out of 6 serves, which irked me. In the end, though, we did managed to close it out and take the 2-0 win.

From there it was all about the King’s-Cambridge match. That one went 3, but King’s managed to win it in the end. We still hadn’t really said anything definitive to the players just in case I hadn’t understood the tiebreak procedure correctly. I was coaching the guys’ team in the 7th/8th playoff match when the team got the news they made the semis. Much celebration ensued! 🙂

Our semifinal opponent was Northumbria – defending BUCS champions. If anything, they looked a stronger team this year than the one I saw play a year ago. We didn’t stand a chance (only one other team in the competition did), so my focus was on getting playing time some way for all my bench players.

The first set had a very rough start. We gave up a string of points in a row with barely a challenge. I went with the starters to begin, and I honestly think they were a bit too keyed up for it. They knew what they were up against, but really wanted to make a few plays. Eventually, I was able to get them to settle down a bit during a timeout, but it was a rocky start and we never broke single digits. Northumbria used its bench in the second and I used all of mine as well. We managed to get I think 15 points in that one, so the team walked away happy.

We’ll have a couple of training session before the term ends, but this will be the last of log entries since the season is complete. After things have settled a bit I’ll post a season review with my thoughts on how it all went and what I thought of my coaching.

John Forman
About the Author: John Forman

John currently coaches for an NCAA Division II women’s team. This follows a stint as head coach for a women’s professional team in Sweden. Prior to that he was the head coach for the University of Exeter Volleyball Club BUCS teams (roughly the UK version of the NCAA) while working toward a PhD. He previously coached in Division I of NCAA Women’s Volleyball in the US, with additional experience at the Juniors club level, both coaching and managing, among numerous other volleyball adventures. Learn more on his bio page.

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