Texas Tech professor Alan Reifman uses statistics and graphic arts to illuminate developments in U.S. collegiate and Olympic volleyball. [For archives of this blog and extensive links to other volleyball sites, please click the three-line icon in upper-right corner.]
With the NCAA Division I women's tournament starting Thursday and rampant displeasure at the tournament committee's seedings (believed to be based heavily on RPI ratings), the fans at VolleyTalk are awash in different alternative rating schemes for evaluating the teams. The major known ranking systems -- the AVCA Coaches' Poll , RPI , Pablo Rankings , and Rich Kern Rankings -- all appear to take teams' win/loss records and strength of schedule into account. As anyone who has read my blog over the past five years knows, my focus has always been on hitting percentage . I think it's a great singular statistic for incorporating many aspects of the game. If you hit well (not just keep the ball in play, but get kills), your (individual or team) hitting percentage goes up. An attack kept in play by the other team hurts, as does a hitting error (spiking the ball out of bounds or getting stuff-blocked for an opponent's point). In order to hit well, a team mus
Cal came into Stanford's Maples Pavilion last night and upset the Cardinal in a mostly tight match, 24-26 , 29-27, 25-23, 25-14 ( box score ). Cal led 24-22 in the opening game, but Stanford ran off four straight points. Stanford had a couple of opportunities to go up two sets to none, having set points in Game 2 at 25-24 and 26-25. Cal had set points at 27-26 and 28-27, the latter of which the Golden Bears capitalized on. The Golden Bears outhit the Cardinal, .306-.233. Leading Cal were Kat Brown, .500 (7 kills, 0 errors, 14 attempts); Correy Johnson, .500 (16-3-26); and Shannon Hawari, .375 (12-3-24). (I always confuse Kat Brown with Texas’s Khat Bell.) Carly Wopat, Stanford's 6-foot-2 sophomore middle blocker, continues to shine. She has committed only 13 hitting errors in her last 234 swings (over the team's last nine matches). With 118 kills during this time, she is hitting .449 during her hot stretch. Here are Wopat's hitting statistics for the second half of
I hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving. Here are a few tidbits from Tuesday and Wednesday nights' action to get caught up on recent developments. No sooner did I write an entry about how well Oregon was doing than the Ducks got swept Tuesday night by Oregon State. The teams have a rematch tonight in Eugene. A few weeks ago, the college-volleyball world marveled at the 34-32 game played by Penn State and Wisconsin. Wednesday night, Oklahoma took a 35-33 set over Texas Tech to close out a three-game sweep. In another Wednesday match featuring overtime games, Tennessee held off Kentucky in Knoxville, 28-30 , 25-20, 30-28, 25-18, to win the SEC title. The potent Lady Volunteer offense did not disappoint, racking up a .291 overall team hitting percentage ( box score ). Leading contributors were DeeDee Harrison, .444 (15 kills, 3 errors, 27 attempts); Shealyn Kolosky, .421 (8-0-19); and Leslie Cikra, .370 (14-4-27). The Wildcats were led by Whitney Billings .367 (14-3-30);
The Lincoln Journal Star notes in this piece that Nebraska lately "has gotten off to slow starts, losing the first set in seven of its last nine matches. While Nebraska is 7-2 in those matches, it's something the Huskers hope to get a better handle on before the NCAA Tournament begins next week." (Thanks to "Red in Colorado" for posting the link on VolleyTalk.) To probe the matter further, I created the following table based on Nebraska's schedule/results page , showing the Cornhuskers' opponents and lost sets/games (in yellow) in the matches alluded to above. Opponent Game 1 Game 2 Game 3 Game 4 Game 5 Illinois 24-26 25-18 25-19 25-11 --- @Ohio St. 19-25 25-22 25-19 25-17 --- @Penn St. 17-25 15-25 25-17 17-25 --- Michigan 17-25 26-24 25-20 25-21 --- Mich. St. 25-11 25-18 25-23 --- --- @Indiana 25-19 25-19 25-20 --- --- @Purdue 19-25 19-25 16-25 --- --- Minnesota 17-25
The Oregon Ducks, who opened the season in August with a shocking win at Penn State, have been making a lot of noise of late. This past weekend, Oregon went down to the Bay Area and knocked off both the Stanford and Cal women. With these latest wins in Pac 12 play, the Ducks have now won 8 of their last 10 matches ( game-by-game log ). One feature of the Oregon team -- if not the primary feature -- that appears to give it strength is the number of players who can hit for high percentages on a given night. Below, I've selected four major Duck wins and, for each, the following table displays players' hitting percentages (with number of spike attempts in parentheses). Hitting percentages of .300 or higher, based on at least 10 attempts, are highlighted. Player @PSU (8/26) vs. UCLA (11/11) @Stan (11/18) @Cal (11/19) Bergsma (OH) .239 (46) .290 (62) .234 (47) .220 (50) Brenner (OH) .579 (19) -.257 (15) .651 (43) .043 (47) Fischer (OH) .317 (
In sweeping Baylor tonight, Texas committed only one hitting error total in the final two games ( box score ). In Game 2, the Longhorns had 15 kills and 0 errors on 24 attempts, for a .625 hitting percentage. In Game 3, UT had 14 kills and 1 error in 28 swings, yielding a percentage of .464.
The nation's top-ranked teams in last week's AVCA poll took it on the chin this weekend. After taking the two opening games (sets) Friday night on the Oregon Ducks' home court, No. 1 UCLA dropped the final three and rather decisively at that, 25-15, 25-18, and 15-9 ( box score ). Whichever team compiles a higher side-out rate (winning points on the opponents' serve) wins the game. Thus, it is not which team had the better side-out rate that is noteworthy, but rather the margin by which the higher team did so. Here's a graph I made of the UCLA and Oregon side-out rates by game. By Game 2, UCLA's siding-out proficiency had begun to slide, and slide it did for the rest of the match. Siding out in the percentage range of the 40s to the low-50s is not going to win a team many matches. Also, in a previous posting , I noted a tendency for UCLA to suffer a decline in hitting percentage after the post-Game 2 intermission. That's what happened agains
No. 8 Texas came here to Lubbock and made short work of Texas Tech, 25-16, 25-15, 25-18. Above is a shot I took of the Longhorns walking toward the net to shake hands with the Red Raiders at the conclusion of the match. The contest was the first for Texas without middle blocker Khat Bell, who injured her knee in a weekend match in the midst of an amazing three-match hitting stretch . How did the Longhorns reallocate their spike attempts without Bell? The most direct comparison would be Texas's statistics in its two matches this season against Texas Tech, with Bell (Oct. 12 in Austin) and without her (tonight). Here are links to the box scores of the first and second matches. Looking at only two matches is not ideal, but it's a start. Additional matches can be examined as the Longhorns' season moves toward a close. Here are graphs of the Horns' hit allocations in their two matches against the Red Raiders (the first column doesn't add to 100%, due to rounding).
Texas frosh MB Khat Bell is out for the season with a knee injury, it was announced today. I was actually getting ready to do a posting on her recent error-free hitting. Bell's statistics lines (Kills, Errors, Total Attempts, Percentage) for hitting in her last three matches were: Oct. 22 vs. Missouri : 11-0-12, .917 Oct. 28 vs. Iowa State : 13-0-16, .812 Nov. 5 at Kansas : 6-0-8, .750 I'm sure all VolleyMetrics readers will join me in wishing Ms. Bell a speedy and healthy recovery. I had been looking forward to seeing her (and her Longhorn teammates) play Wednesday night here at Texas Tech, but we'll just have to wait till next year.
For drama in a regular-season match, it would be hard to top today's Penn State-Wisconsin battle in Madison. In the end, it was the unranked Badgers pulling a five-game upset over the No. 6 Nittany Lions, 26-24, 25-19, 32-34, 14-25 , 15-12. The set score that probably jumps out at you is that for Game 3, won by Penn State 34-32 in preventing a Wisconsin sweep. As gleaned from this statistics sheet (which includes the box score and play-by-play) and shown in the following table, the Badgers had five game (and thus match) points in the third set, and the Lions also had five game points. Held Game Point Score Held Game Point Wisconsin 24-23 25-24 Penn State 26-25 Penn State 27-26 Penn State Wisconsin 28-27 Wisconsin 29-28 Wisconsin 30-29 Wisconsin 31-30 32-31 Penn State 33-32 Penn State* HTML Tables *Won game 34-32. Penn State outhit Wisconsin for the match, .212-.173. One game about which the Nittany Lions are probably kicking