This is an entry in my volleyball coaching log for the 2020-21 season.

Now things get serious!


Only 7 guys for this session as our two primary MBs were both out. We continued working on the rotations, finishing up with the last two. Obviously, we focused mostly on non-Middle sets, though I did have our MB turned OPP slot in there a couple of times.

Importantly, we got a bunch more passing stats. The tally for the 3 sessions we did these rotations was nearly 300 receptions. It helps with the process for decision-making in a couple positions.


Back to full numbers for this session. I’d asked the guys to let me know if there was anything in particular they wanted to do as preparation for Wednesday’s match. The suggestion was going through the pre-match warm-up again, plus some extra reception and hitting lines. So basically what I did was extend those parts of the pre-match routine until the guys felt like they got what they needed.

After that, the whole rest of the session was a series of 5 v 4 mini games. The 4 side had the setter and always received the first ball (coach down ball over the net). So basically, it was offense vs. defense, though they played the rallies out. On the 4 side – which was setter plus 3 hitters – I went through the rotations, mixing players around.


First match of the season! Our opponent was D’Youville College from across town in Buffalo. They used to be in our conference, but this year made the jump to Division II. There are 4 local men’s college teams, including Medaille. The other two are Hilbert and Daemen. The former is in our conference. The latter is another Division II program. We play them in our second match.

It ended up being a tight one. We took a 3-0 win, but every set was by 2 points. Serving was an issue. We missed 21 against 6 aces. Nearly half of them came in the first set with 10. Misses in a row definitely impacted our ability to really take hold of that set and put it away more easily. I also felt like we got conservative after that first set. Not surprising given all the misses, but disappointing.

A potentially significant development was having one of the OHs have to leave the match after the 2nd set because of a knee issue. Fortunately, our libero has had plenty of reps in practice at OH, so he slotted in fairly easily. Our offense in the third set ended up being the best of the match as we hit .379 with a kill rate a bit above 50%. The other 2 sets were in the lower .200s.

In one of the funnier aspects of the box score, our MB-turned-OPP lead the team in digs. Naturally, he’s already suggested he should be our libero now. 🙂

I said to our AD on Thursday morning this match was kind of the perfect outcome. We got the win, but it was also clear that we have lots of stuff to work on.


We had 8 at practice. In the ended it was only about 60 minutes worth of volleyball because I took some time after set-up to talk positives and negatives from Wednesday’s match (also we need to finish early to give the dorm guys a change to get to the cafeteria before it closes). My two focus points were serving and blocking.

For the former I devised a game. I had 2, then 3 passers on one side. The rest of the guys were servers. Each got 7 serves. They scored as follows:

  • Ace = 5pts
  • Overpass = 4pts
  • 1 pass = 3pts
  • 2 pass = 2 pts
  • 3 pass = 1pt
  • Error = -5pt

Basically, the idea was to tap into their natural competitiveness to have them working on their serving in a way that sought to balance aggression with accuracy.

For the blocking, we did a bunch of hitters vs. blockers in different ways.


We were supposed to have 7, but ended up only having 5 healthy enough to go. So it became a short session. I had the guys work on serving from some different angles. Then they played a couple of variations on back-court 2 v 2. Basically, that was to get some defensive work in while also allowing me setter and OPP to get some live reps in.

Other stuff

Our season schedule remains something of a moving target. Our first AMCC conference match is meant to be March 13th against Hiram College at home. The problem is that Hiram is located in Ohio, which is a non-contiguous state to New York. There’s a bunch of confusion as to what the requirements are for visiting teams in that situation. The AD is trying to get a straight answer from the county.

So the current situation is this. If we get an agreeable protocol from the county inside the next week we’ll keep the March 13th date. In case that doesn’t happen, we’ve put April 5th down as a potential back-up date. We’ve also added a second match – this time at home – against D’Youville for March 9th. That would ensure we have enough matches for NCAA tournament qualifications if the Hiram match doesn’t actually get played.

In other news, one of my assistants had to resign because of a promotion at her job.

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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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