This is an entry in my volleyball coaching log for 2014-15.

The second swing through the league competition started with this match. It was against the team we faced to start it all – that horrible long trip with no warm-up. My recollection was they seemed generally solid and were aggressive in the attack, both front row and back row, but without any real stud hitters. My recollection of them might have actually been a bit inflated by our own poor performance, though.

I was able to basically use the same line-up as from the last match – with the bonus of having a libero available to play on the M2 (the M1 is an all-around player). The first set was a bit back-and-forth. A string of errors put us in a hole that we never quite were able to get out of. The 28-26 score line, though, was the closest of the season thus far, which the players took some positives from. The next set was similarly tight, but we managed to come out ahead, which was a definite easing of pressure on the players. The third set it remained fairly close, but the team was getting locked in on what they needed to do to win and they won again. The opposition basically fell apart in the last set, which ended 25-10.

Things came together in a lot of ways in this match. The team learned the value of cutting down the errors and of being fully committed to keeping the ball off the floor in a team fashion. There were still some panicky moments and the occasional communication lapse that need ironing out, and I’d like to see a bit better on defense. The setter is learning to focus the offense through her strongest hitters, and is moving better on the court, but needs more consistency in set execution.

Problematic for the team moving forward is the team captain will miss the last two matches of the term – next week and the following. She plays O2 and is a major part of serve reception and defense. Those are important matches in the relegation fight. I’m going to have to consider and explore a few options in the next two training sessions.

I should not, this was my last match with the team. I’ll continue to run trainings the last two or so weeks of the term, but I won’t be with them for the two upcoming as I cannot afford the lengthy road trips at this stage of my PhD work. And I won’t be back with them second term as my focus will be on finishing up any remaining PhD work and on pursuing gainful employment. There is a definite sense of leaving a job undone, especially seeing how the team has made steady improvement these last few weeks. I go out on a high note, though, especially since the men’s team also won their first league match of the season right before the women’s match.

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John Forman
John Forman

John is currently the Talent Strategy Manager (oversees the national teams) and Indoor Performance Director for Volleyball England, as well as Global Director for Volleyball for Nation Academy. His volleyball coaching experience includes all three NCAA divisions, plus Junior College, in the US; university and club teams in the UK; professional coaching in Sweden; and both coaching and club management at the Juniors level. He's also been a visiting coach at national team, professional club, and juniors programs in several countries. Learn more on his bio page.

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