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Showing posts from February, 2008

Tradeoff of Serving Aggressively (or Cautiously): Service Errors vs. Aces

The other night, I caught a replay of UCLA hosting USC in men's volleyball, on Fox College Sports. It was the second match of the season between the Bruins and Trojans. In the first match, as the TV announcers pointed out, the teams had combined for 51 service errors, so it was suggested they would be toning down their aggressive service in the rematch. Indeed, UCLA and USC cut their combined service errors in half, to 25, in the second match.

That got me to thinking about coaches' decision-making strategies involved in choosing whether to have their teams serve aggressively or cautiously. The most aggressive type of delivery would seem to be the jump serve, as illustrated in these brief video clips I found on the web (here and here).

Such a serve has the potential to generate an ace or, if not that, a ball that the receiving team struggles to retrieve and thus takes the team out of its offense. Trying to pulverize the ball on the serve also, however, creates the potential fo…