Things you might not have known about volleyball or cared about until the Washington Huskies got deep in their run toward the Final Four, which starts today...
Things you might not have known about volleyball or cared about until the Washington Huskies got deep in their run toward the Final Four, which starts today:
1. A team no longer has to be serving to score. The new scoring system is called “rally scoring.” A college match is best-of-five games. All games are to 30 points, except for the fifth game, which is to 15 (all games must be won by two points). Under the old system, the sport was like baseball you could never predict how long a match would take. Evenly matched teams often traded serves with no points being scored for minutes at a time.
2. There is a new position called “libero” a defensive specialist adept at “digging” (returning opponent kill attempts) and returning serves. The libero must stay in the back row and wears a different-colored jersey than her teammates.
3. Basic rules: Each team is allowed a maximum of three successive hits (excluding blocking) in returning the ball to the opponent. One player may not hit the ball two times in a row. The ball can’t be held in any way it must be hit cleanly. Serves and other shots may touch the net on their way to the opponent’s side. It is illegal to block or attack a serve while it is above the net.
4. The usual positions: Outside hitters (attackers), blockers, a setter (who “sets” the ball for attackers), and a libero.
5. The top women hitters can smack the ball at speeds of about 60 mph.
6. Often, a “float” serve the volleyball equivalent of a knuckleball is much more difficult to receive and pass than a bullet serve.
7. Volleyball players are dependent on each other more than players in most sports. If the libero doesn’t do a good job of passing, the setter can’t do a good job of setting and the hitters can’t be as effective. In basketball, a superstar still will find a way to score 30 points regardless of the talent level of teammates.
8. Except for liberos and setters (in systems where setters aren’t asked to block), players tend to be tall.
9. Key stat: Hitting percentage, which is determined by subtracting errors from kills (an attack that produces a point) and dividing by total attack attempts. Just like baseball, a hitting percentage better than .300 is considered good.
10. Volleyball terms and phrases: “Faceball” (getting smacked in the face by a spike); “She has a good arm” (means she can spike hard); “Pancake save” (a save in which the defensive player’s hand slides between the ball and the floor at the last second; “Husband and wife” (two players fail to communicate and ball drops between them).
11. Jumping ability is a volleyball virtue for hitters and blockers. The statement, “She can jump 10-2” means the player’s reach from a standing jump is 10 feet, 2 inches. Most Pac-10 players touch about 10 feet.
12. Teams have diagrammed offensive plays, but on-court adjustments are frequent. One of the most interesting plays is a “quick set,” which is a low set made with the intention of getting off an attacking shot before the defense expects it.