Coaching Log – Mar 9, 2014

This is an entry in my volleyball coaching log.

The team played it’s last round of South West league fixtures on Sunday. There is yet another round to be played this Sunday to come, but since the team will be in Edinburgh for Final 8s, the club will bring up some of the Intermediates to fill out a squad. Two relatively straightforward wins puts the team atop the table on points, though they won’t stay their when the presumptive champs catch up in terms of matches played. Odds are we’ll finish the season in 3rd place.

It’s been an impressive run, especially considering the chopping and changing of line-ups we’ve had through the campaign. I don’t think we’ve had the same group of players two fixture dates in a row and I’ve often juggled line-ups around match-to-match and even set-to-set during any given triangular round of play. For example, yesterday I had our two squad setters each set one match and play OPP the other. The team is 14-2 in the league and has won 10 straight without dropping a single set. Since losing our last BUCS match of first term, we’re 11-0 overall in all competitions, with a 30 set win streak. Not a bad way to enter Final 8s from a confidence perspective.

My one concern is that we haven’t played any really challenging teams in quite a while now. Yes, they get at each other pretty well in training, which is a big reason they’ve had things relatively easy this term, but that’s not quite the same as facing tough external competition. Had we not got a bye in the Round of 16 it would be a different situation. As it stands, I’m pondering maybe getting some of the guys to come in to bolster the B team a bit for 6-v-6 action this week.

In terms of what came out of yesterday’s matches, there again was some very good serving. I have to give very serious thought to using the second team setter as a serving specialist at Final 8s. A couple of the hitters took the opportunity to work on a few things, which of course produced mixed results. Defense was generally solid, but passing could have been better. My plan for this week will be to have serve receive incorporated heavily into the games and drills.

Between matches yesterday I continued to give some thought to how I might be able to maximize the amount of talent – both mental and physical – we had on the court. I played around with line-up ideas and came up with one that could work. It’s definitely non-traditional, but I think it could be quite useful. The problem is one of the players motivating a look at the change hasn’t been playing quite up to the level I’ve seen her at for some reason. Makes me wonder if it’s worth giving this line-up a shot in training this week because I certainly don’t want to spring it on the team at Final 8s.

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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