I had this Ohio State vs Wisconsin match on while I was working. As a result, I wasn’t fully locked in when I saw this play, but it caught my attention. Let’s see if you can figure out why.
Did you catch what happened there?
If not, take a look at the starting positions. OSU is in a 5-1. The Setter is in Position 4, standing near the net. The Middle (Position 3) is also over there in a stack. In this kind of set up you normally see the front row Outside Hitter pulled back in Position 5 to pass. That is not the case here.
Instead, the front row OH is in Position 2, ready to play a short ball. The three back row players are lined up to receive serve in their respective positions. That puts the back row OH in Position 5 when she’d normally pass in 6.
As the play unfolds, the MB comes inside to run a quick. The front row OH stays on the right to hit a back set in Position 2. Normally, that would leave no one to hit outside. OSU, however, makes up for that by running the back row OH on a wide back row attack. Not something you see very often!
I should note that OSU wasn’t trying to go for a match-up with this set. Wisconsin’s big OPP was front row, not the setter. The MB run, however, held the Wisconsin MB, resulting in OSU getting probably their best hitter in a 1-on-1 where the attack is coming from an unusual position for the blocker. We can see the result.
Obviously, you need a couple factors to make this work. It starts with a good back row hitter. The front row OH has to be a legit threat on the right to keep the block honest. And you need a good pass to make the MB a threat on the quick (see my post on doing the back row attack right).
Ideally, that set would be a little closer to the net than it was. Set accuracy is a risk in this situation. It’s a longer set than you’d normally see for a back row attack in-system. That means more potential variation in set location. A good hitter can make up for that, though, as we can see
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