At the start of the 2013 US college volleyball season I visited Southern California. During that trip I went to Pepperdine for their match against Wisconsin. Despite several injured players, Wisconsin won. I wrote before that Wisconsin used a 2-person serve receive system. There was another development later.

During his press conference, Wisconsin coach Kelly Sheffield (then in his first season) talked about his team’s aggressive serving strategy. Here’s the link to the coverage of that presser. The main page provides some text and commentary and a link near the top (just below the picture). The part about serving is toward the end:

Basically, Sheffield said two things motivated the aggressive serving. One was the need to put the Pepperdine offense under pressure. They wanted to do that by forcing bad passes. The thinned Wisconsin ranks meant they were particularly weakened at the net in terms of their block. Thus, they couldn’t afford to have Pepperdine regularly running their full attack if there was to be any prospect of victory.

The secondary reasoning was based on the effectiveness of the Wisconsin serve receive attack. They had a very high sideout percentage. That means they could rely on winning the next point if they missed serves here and there.

It’s worth a listen. I would still contend, though, that there were times when they shouldn’t have missed a serve. But that’s just my view. 🙂

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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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