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

Player developments

It has been a challenging few weeks on the player front. First, we had a girl out sick for about a week who was subsequently diagnosed with mono. She was cleared to come back faster than many I’ve heard about, but obviously still missed a lot. That includes a whole tournament.

Second, we found out from another player that she has to miss the first bit of Regional Championships next week. Unfortunately, she has an unavoidable family commitment in another part of the country.

Third, one of the girls told us about some knee problems. Her doctor told her to limit her jumps ahead of our next tournament – the one from last weekend.

Finally, we found out a week from the tournament another player required a non-volleyball related surgery. She had it right away, but the indication was a 2-4 week recover period before she could return to the court

Training

We continued the work started on jump float serving. Our primary focus, though, was on the offense. In particular, that meant more time dedicated to passing and attack. With respect to the latter, a lot of attention went to developing cross-court attacking. It’s an area the team has struggled with a lot all season, funny as that might sound.

Tournament

We played in the Open division of the Orlando USA Volleyball Junior National Qualifier. This was definitely a step WAY up in competitive level, and the results reflected that.

The first day (Friday) we went 0-3 overall, and 0-6 in terms of sets. In both the first two matches, though – which were against to top two seeds – we managed to have a set where we got to 19 or 20 points. In the third, though, we didn’t. I think a combination of fatigue – especially mental – and a team that just made fewer errors kept us from scoring much.

In Saturday’s pool – which comprised teams who finished 3rd or 4th in their Friday pool – we had a similar set of results. This time we only once got to 19s points, however. This might sound strange since we played supposedly weaker teams, but here’s the thing.

The first day it was my view that if we had actually be just a little better we probably would have done worse, in terms of scores. Why? Because we were way over-matched physically. The points were scored were mainly from the other teams making aggressive mistakes and/or us getting the ball to the floor in somewhat ugly fashion (relatively speaking). If we were a bit better we’d have been a bit easier to play against.

I think our results on Saturday back this up. Those teams clearly weren’t as good as the top ones from Friday. As a result, they were more accustomed to playing against someone like us. They were still much better than us, so it was very one-sided.

Somewhat surprisingly, the team we played in our Sunday bracket match was one I think we could have beat. I’m not saying we should have won, only that we could have. Very big difference. If we played our best, and they didn’t, it was possible.

Alas, that didn’t happen. We put up a good fight in the first set, but lost 25-22. It came down to just a couple of sticky points in serve receive. The second set was a complete wipe out. I think we went down 15-0 off the start. The final result was 25-9.

Observations

During the event it seemed like the players handled things pretty well mentally. Yes, there were clearly some low energy times. As I noted during the tournament, it’s a whole lot easier to keep the energy up when you’re scoring – even if those points come mainly from the other team making errors. It’s a lot tougher when you’re the ones making the mistakes all the time.

I will be curious to see how the players feel about the experience moving forward. Will they use it to motivate them? We might see at least some of that this week as we prepare for regional championships this coming weekend.

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John Forman
John Forman

John is currently 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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