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Showing posts from August, 2012

Opening Weekend: Nebraska-UCLA Match Analysis

No. 4 Nebraska, playing at home, edged defending champion and preseason No. 1 UCLA in five games, as the women's college season opened this weekend. Both teams return most of their top players from a year ago, but each has some niches to fill.

I have proposed hitting allocation (the percentage of a team's spike attempts taken by each player) as one way to characterize a team's offense. Whether one player takes an enormous share of a team's attempts, or a team has two or three hitters who lead the team with roughly the same share of attempts, tells us something. So does the way a team changes from year to year in hitting allocation.

The Cornhuskers no longer have middle-blocker Brooke Delano, who was a senior in 2011. She led the team in hitting percentage a year ago, with a .331 mark. Among UCLA's seniors from last year were setter Lauren van Orden and MB Sara Sage, who hit .386 last season, albeit on only 184 attempts.

Let's look first at Nebraska's hittin…

Year-to-Year Consistency of Hitting Percentage in Top Women's College Spikers

It's time to put the Olympics behind us and start thinking about the new season of women's indoor college volleyball, which begins this weekend. In this posting, I attempt to answer, for women's college volleyball, a question raised in the book Stumbling on Wins by economists David Berri and Martin Schmidt.

Berri and Schmidt, drawing upon the earlier writings of J.C. Bradbury, argue that there are two dimensions on which to evaluate the importance of skills in sports:
Do players tend to exhibit them with consistency? In baseball, for example, are pitchers who lead their league one year in the proportion of opposing batters they strike out likely also to lead the league in this category the next year? In football, are running backs who amass a high yards-per-carry average one year likely to do the same the next year? As Berri and Schmidt characterize Bradbury's original point, "a measure that's consistent over time is probably measuring a skill. In contrast, inc…

May and Walsh in Women's Olympic Beach Final

Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings have completed their illustrious career as an Olympic beach volleyball duo, winning their third consecutive gold medal, never losing a match in the three Olympiad, and losing only one set (game) the whole time. Below, I review some statistics from their recent triumph in the London Games (referring to them, for simplicity, as May and Walsh).

Box scores were available online (see links below), but some elements readers are used to seeing in U.S. collegiate box scores were missing. These include side-out rates (winning points on the other team's serve) and hitting percentages (with the hitting errors needed to compute percentages). I thus reviewed play-by-play sheets, as needed, to calculate these stats.

In the final against fellow Americans Jen Kessy and April Ross, May and Walsh won points on 26 of 32 balls served by Kessy/Ross, an 81% side-out rate (compared to 62% for Kessy/Ross). Here are the box score and play-by-play sheet from that …

2012 Olympics: Men's Indoor Midway Through Pool Play

The defending gold-medalist U.S. men's squad is off to a fast 3-0 start. The first two wins came over Serbia and Germany. Yesterday, as noted in this Los Angeles Timesarticle, "...the U.S. men stormed back to defeat world No. 1 Brazil in four sets. No longer can the defending Olympic champions fly under the radar here."

Below is a screen-capture of men's hitting statistics from the London 2012 website, to which I added the U.S. players' positions. (You may click on the graphics to enlarge them. For additional explanation of the features of the chart, see yesterday's entry on women's play, immediately below the present entry.)


As can be seen, the U.S. currently ranks second in hitting percentage (or efficiency) at .386 (or 38.55%), behind Poland (.414). The Americans' balance is impressive, with four players hitting between .377 and .458.

On the actual London 2012 webpage, you can click on the tabs (shown at the top of the chart) for Service, Block, …

2012 Olympics: Women's Indoor Midway Through Pool Play

Starting today with women's indoor volleyball, we'll look at how leading teams are doing. The U.S. women are 3-0 in pool play, with four-game wins over South Korea and Brazil, and a sweep over China (albeit with two of the games won by the minimum two-point margin). Below, I've annotated a screen-capture from the London 2012 website on team hitting percentages (you can click on the graphics to enlarge them). On the website, one can click on a given team's red dot with the plus sign (far right-hand side) to bring out the statistics for that team's individual players.


Fans who watch a lot of U.S. college volleyball will probably be more familiar with the terminology of Kills, Errors, and Total Attempts in computing hitting percentage or efficiency: (K - E) / TA. I have no idea what "shots" refer to; some players have more shots than spikes, whereas others have fewer.

Middle blockers usually are among a team's leaders in hitting percentage (because sets …