The Athletes Unlimited volleyball project finished its first round of matches on Monday. As a I write this, preparations are underway for the draft that will determine the teams for the second round of play.

Thoughts so far?

Personally, I only managed to take in a single match. That was the opener on Saturday. Why? Because it was the only one available to me seeing as I don’t currently have a subscription to a service that offers FS1, FS2 or CSB Sports Network. That means I can only watch the matches streamed via one of the AU’s social platforms.

Looks like I’ll be able to catch half of the ones happening this round.

Honestly, though, I wasn’t super engaged with the one I did tune in for. Kevin Barnett and Salima Rockwell did a good job announcing, as you’d expect if you’ve seen/heard them do matches before.

For me, it was more the novelty that drew me to tune in (while working on a research project) than any particular sense of fandom. I wasn’t routing for either team, nor really for any particular player. I think the latter is supposed to be the whole point, which is problematic if my perspective isn’t the minority one.

If you watched any of the play, I’d love to hear your thoughts and feelings.

Player rankings

Below is the top 10 for the player rankings after Week 1. One

RANKATHLETEPOSITIONTOTAL PTSWIN PTSSTAT PTSMVP PTS
1Larson, J.OUTHT1021420441160
2Lowe, K.OPPHT875420355100
3Edmond, L.OUTHT75626041680
4De La Cruz, B.OUTHT750280370100
5Gibbemeyer, L.MBLCK66042022020
6Lichtman, C.OUTHT65326037320
7Sybeldon, L.MBLCK64842020820
8King, B.SETTR6292803490
9Manns, K.SETTR6134201930
10Atkinson, S.OPPHT60928026960

Now here’s the Top 10 by stat points based on their player scoring system. Note that the Rank column indicates their rank based on Total points.

RANKATHLETEPOSITIONTOTAL PTSWIN PTSSTAT PTSMVP PTS
1Larson, J.OUTHT1021420441160
3Edmond, L.OUTHT75626041680
6Lichtman, C.OUTHT65326037320
4De La Cruz, B.OUTHT750280370100
2Lowe, K.OPPHT875420355100
14McCage, M.MBLCK53312035360
8King, B.SETTR6292803490
23Seliger-Swenson, S.SETTR4201203000
11Nwanebu, E.OPPHT60326028360
10Atkinson, S.OPPHT60928026960

A concern I have is that MVP points are going to be biased toward point scoring players since it’s based on fan voting. That’ll be interesting to watch. Interestingly, though, so far they don’t seem to have much impact on the rankings.

RANKATHLETEPOSITIONTOTAL PTSWIN PTSSTAT PTS
1Larson, J.OUTHT861420441
2Lowe, K.OPPHT775420355
3Edmond, L.OUTHT676260416
4De La Cruz, B.OUTHT650280370
5Gibbemeyer, L.MBLCK640420220
6Lichtman, C.OUTHT633260373
8King, B.SETTR629280349
7Sybeldon, L.MBLCK628420208
9Manns, K.SETTR613420193
10Atkinson, S.OPPHT549280269
Research ideas

I always have an eye for an interesting research idea, and this project has definitely stimulated some. One of the thoughts that occurred to me while watching that inaugural match had to do with the quality of play. Given how little time teams have together before playing, I’d expect them to play their worst in the first match and their best in the third. Of course, testing that hypothesis is challenged if/when there are line-up changes.

What about you? Any hypotheses you’d be interested in exploring?

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John Forman
John Forman

John is currently the Men's & Women's Head Volleyball Coach at Medaille College, as well as Global Director for Volleyball for Nation Academy (formerly Charleston Academy). His previous experience includes the college and university level in the US and UK, professional coaching in Sweden, and both coaching and club management at the Juniors level. Learn more on his bio page.

Please share your own ideas and opinions.