This is an entry in my volleyball coaching log for the 2021-22 season for the Medaille College men.

After a gap in the schedule for Spring Break, we’re into the second half of the conference season. Here’s how the table looked coming out of the first half.

At this point, who comes out on top for the regular season is pretty much up in the air. No team has struck me as clearly the best. We are currently in the conference tournament field (top 6 make it). If we win our rematches against the teams below us we’ll be guaranteed post-season play. Four of our remaining 8 matches are at home, including two of the must-wins.


At the start of the season, when we found out Spring Break was being pushed back a week thanks to the Spring term kicking off a week later, we had a conversation about how to handle things. Our March 5th tri-match was supposed to come at the start of Break. The push back caused the March 19th tri-match to now be at the end of the Break week. Awkward. We decided to practice the 7th, 8th, and 9th, then take a week away, before coming back to practice the 17th and 18th.

Plans are nice. Reality is something else. Because of guys missing for different reasons, I actually had to cancel practice on the 7th. Not the worst thing in the world, but obviously not the plan. Then, one guy missed practice on the 17th because of poor planning returning from a trip. Another guy lost his grandfather on the 18th, so missed that practice and Saturday’s matches.

Our main training focus through these sessions was speeding up the offense. Secondarily, I wanted to work on receiving stronger jump serves. They tend to give us problems.

Penn State – Altoona match

Altoona played a midweek match vs. St. Vincent which was probably more tightly contested than they would have liked. It ended up 3-1, but still a win.

Altoona faced Thiel before playing us. That ended up going 5, with Altoona taking the victory. Our match ended up being rather interesting. In talking with their coach ahead of time, I learned that the feeling in the Altoona camp was that they’d been missing too many serves. Sounds familiar! It was easy to see that playing out against us as they didn’t serve particularly hard.

Aside from having to again play with an undersized OH, or biggest issue to start the match was defense. We let them hit over .700 in the first set. That ended up 25-14, probably not too surprisingly. From there on things were much more competitive. We took the second set 27-25, then lost 25-20 in the next two. Hitting errors definitely hampered us.

Thiel match

This was definitely a match of swings, which was established from the start. It was back and forth in the early going, but then Thiel took a 16-11 lead. We battled back to 17-17, but then gave up the next three. The home side took a 24-21 lead, but we again came back and edged ahead at 26-25. Ultimately, though, we didn’t take advantage of a couple of set points and lost 30-28. It was this tight is despite Thiel outhitting us .257 to .038.

After more back and forth in the second set putting us at 21-21 in the second, we pulled away to win that one 25-22. From there Thiel had the edge. In both the third and fourth they got out to big leads. We clawed back, but never could quite close the gap. They ended up 25-18 and 25-21. We were definitely struggling with fatigue in some of the guys in those latter stages.

Our defense was solid in this one, with the help of some good tactical serving and surprisingly good blocking (our undersized OH actually got himself a pair of blocks!). We just weren’t efficient enough in attack.

Looking forward

This week we host Hilbert on Wednesday, then have a home tri-match with Mt. Aloysius and Geneva on Saturday.

6 Steps to Better Practices - Free Guide

Subscribe to my weekly newsletter today and get this free guide to making your practices the best, along with loads more coaching tips and information.

No spam ever. Unsubscribe at any time. Powered by ConvertKit

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.

Please share your own ideas and opinions.