This is an entry in my Technical Director’s log for the 2018-19 season.

Developments

It’s been a somewhat challenging time for the club in the weeks since the last tournament. Questions came up about whether to pull the team out of last weekend’s tournament on the basis that it was close to or in the middle of final exams for the players. One parent, who also had playing time issues with regards to her daughter, lead the charge. I wasn’t involved in things very much, so I don’t know the specifics. As I understand it, though, she presented her view as if all the parents shared it. That turned out not to be true.

She also made a number of unfounded allegations after pulling her daughter off the team. The daughter was never a problem player. She did, though, come in behind the others from the start. That was thanks in large part to not playing school volleyball in the Fall. She did make marked improvements through the club season, but so too did everyone else.

So typical club drama.

Training

The last couple weeks were a bit choppy with respect to practice. Our setter, who played with a broken toe in the last tournament, ended up having to see the doctor again. They advised her to skip last week’s training and the tournament. We also had some illness, school, and other absences, so training numbers were down. Last week we brought in a new setter as cover for the tournament. She’s a 14s player who competed for another club’s top team. They’re done for the season, so the Region allowed us to pick her up.

The players expressed a desire to work on three areas of play after the last tournament – hitting, tip defense, and serve reception. We hit on all three in training, but hitting definitely got the most attention. Of course working in a new setter had a lot to do with that.

Player development

I wrote previously about how much growth I saw in the team in terms of their ball control and the like. Last week we were all definitely impressed with the hitting power we saw – front row and back row. The players obviously still have issues getting the ball to go where they want at times, but they are much more aggressive in their swings. Clearly, technical improvement is a factor. So too, though, is confidence.

I talked briefly with the team after their final practice before the tournament. My message to them was simple. Keep swinging like we saw them swing in practice. And my message to the team’s coach was to focus massively during the tournament on encouraging that aggression.

Tournament

The tournament was a 2-day event held near Atlanta. We started in a 3-team pool with one of the teams from powerhouse A5, ranked #316 in AES (their 6th best 15s team in the club). The other team was #747. Naturally, we were the third seed with our #1473 ranking going in.

Not surprisingly, we lost against the A5 team in convincing fashion. We also lost the other match, but that one went three sets. The result was a crossover match against a 2nd place team from another pool. That turned out to be a 14s team, one ranked #486 in AES. The match decided who made the gold bracket for Sunday, and who dropped into Silver. Alas, we lost another close one – 12-15 in the third.

Sunday’s silver bracket play started with a Round of 16 match against a team ranked #3509 in AES. To my recollection, that’s the lowest ranked team we’ve played all season. Not surprisingly, we won easily. Our quarterfinal opponent was significantly better – ranked #1070. Again, a very easy win.

We faced the #896 ranked team in the semifinal. They came in 3rd in a 4-team pool after starting with a 2nd seed. This one definitely wasn’t the cake walk the first two were. It went the full three sets, but we pulled it out. That left us with the #1409 team in the final. We beat them in straight sets.

If my math is correct, winning the Silver Bracket means we finished 15th overall out of 26 teams. That’s probably an improvement on our starting seed.

I wasn’t in attendance, but got some reports along the way from the coach. He said tentative attacking was again and issue on Day 1, though back row attacking was a notable bring spot. Somewhere along the way our stand-in setter hurt her ankle. She soldiered on, but with mobility limitations. They made some defensive adjustments to compensate.

Hitting was better on Day 2, apparently. It sounded like they could still have been more aggressive, but they cut down on the errors. The pipe attack remained potent, and passing and defense received good marks.

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John Forman
John Forman

John is currently the Volleyball Technical Director for Charleston Academy. His previous experience includes the college and university level in the US and UK, professional coaching in Sweden, and both coaching and club management at the Juniors level. Learn more on his bio page.

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