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Showing posts from December, 2008

Penn State Women Complete Undefeated Season with Title-Match Sweep of Stanford

As virtually all college-volleyball fans would know by now, Penn State has successfully defended its NCAA women's title and gone undefeated (38-0) in the process, sweeping Stanford in three games in the final. The scores were 25-20, 26-24, and 25-23. Here are a few brief observations on the match...

Penn State outhit Stanford in Games 1 (.257-.167) and 3 (.196-.109). The Cardinal outhit the Nittany Lions in Game 2, .159-.102. As I showed in analyses of the earlier rounds, a team will usually win the game when it outhits its opponent by this much. In this instance, though, it didn't turn out that way for Stanford.

On the ESPN2 telecast of the final, color commentator Karch Kiraly added a statistical flavor to the proceedings, with his periodic evaluations of the teams' serve-receipt/passing effectiveness on a 0-3 scale.

Happy holidays to everyone! VolleyMetrics will be back in the new year to focus on men's college volleyball.

Pre-Match Analysis of Penn State-Stanford Women's Final

With tonight's NCAA championship match between Penn State and Stanford just hours away, I wanted to provide some pregame statistical analysis. In the aftermath of Penn State's dramatic semifinal victory over Nebraska, one of the most frequent observations among discussants at the VolleyTalk site was how the Nittany Lions appeared to stray from attacking the middle against the Cornhuskers. In order to break things down scientifically, I created the following graph based on Penn State's NCAA tournament matches thus far this season.


Indeed, it appears that the Nittany Lions' three middle-hitters (Christa Harmotto, Blair Brown, and Arielle Wilson) have been getting a declining proportion of the team's hitting attempts in recent matches.

Meanwhile, outside-hitter Nicole Fawcett has, to an increasing extent, been getting the "lion's share" of the hit attempts. Penn State's other main outside-hitter, Megan Hodge, has consistently been getting between …

Measuring Serving Effectiveness: The Length of Average Serving Stint (LASS)

For the last few weeks, I've been trying to think of new ways to measure serving effectiveness. Box scores and statistical summaries typically report only service aces and errors (example). My concerns are that aces occur infrequently (limiting their statistical usefulness), and that focusing on aces does not take into account how even serves that are picked up by the receiving team can still be advantageous to the serving team (e.g., by preventing the receiving team from setting up its top available hitting threat).

Alternatively, one can obtain detailed statistics by observing and classifying the receiving outcomes of serves into micro-level categories, such as whether a serve disrupted the receiving team's ability to "mak[e] the first tempo attack," as reported in this article. If a team has the staffpower resources to record such statistics, that's great, but not everyone can.

What I've been conceiving of, therefore, is some sort of "middle ground…

Looking Back on Opening Weekend (First Two Rounds) of 2008 NCAA Women's Tourney

I've put together a bunch of statistics on last weekend's opening two rounds of play in the NCAA Division I women's volleyball tournament. Forty-eight matches were played (32 in the first round and 16 in the second), comprising roughly three-fourths of the tournament's total matches (63 are played, in all).

In these 48 matches, 179 total games (sets) were played. The type of result (i.e., sweeps, four- and five-game matches) broke down as follows:

3-0: 24
3-1: 13
3-2: 11

The closeness of many matches is illustrated by looking more closely at the five-game tilts. Five were decided by the minimum two points, another three were decided by the score of 15-12, and only three were decided by 5 or more points.

Regular readers of this site know that I consider hitting percentage to be a very important statistic. For each of the 179 individual games played over the first weekend, I examined each team's hitting percentage in relation to who won the game. In only 19…

Kansas State at Texas Tech Regular-Season Finale

As we await the start of the women's NCAA tournament, I thought I'd share some photos from last Saturday night's match featuring Kansas State at Texas Tech (you can click on the collage to enlarge it).


It was Senior Night for three Red Raider players, Michelle Flores, Brandi Hood, and Amanda Sbragia. Sadly for the seniors (and the broader Texas Tech volleyball community), the team lost to Kansas State to finish 0-20 in Big 12 play this season; going back to last season, Tech has lost 39 straight conference matches. Not surprisingly, Saturday night's match was the last for Coach Nancy Todd, ending her six-year stint with the Raiders.

Shown on top are some shots I took during the warm-ups (I wouldn't want to risk distracting the players with flash photography during actual game action). In the lower right-hand corner, your trusty analyst is shown, serving the ball during a contest between Games 2 and 3 that was open to all members of the audience. A dozen or so p…

Correlation Between Seed Number and Making the NCAA Women's Sweet Sixteen

The brackets have been announced for this year's women's NCAA Division I championships. A couple of matches will be played Thursday, but most of the action in the 64-team field gets underway Friday. At each of this weekend's sites, the second round will be played the night after the first-round matches. Tonight, and during the next three weeks, VolleyMetrics will be exploring various statistical aspects of the NCAA's "December Madness."

Tonight, let's start with something very basic, namely the record of No. 1-through-No. 16-seeded teams over the past five tournaments (2003-2007) in making the Sweet Sixteen. That is, of course, the immediate goal of all teams playing this weekend. Unlike the NCAA basketball brackets in which all 64 teams are seeded (i.e., each of the four regions has its teams seeded 1-16), the women's volleyball bracket only seeds 16 teams (explicitly) total.

Thus, for example, among the 16 teams vying to make the four-team re…