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Showing posts from September, 2012

Breaking Down Wednesday's UCLA-Wash. Thriller

UCLA has shown a flair in this young season for the dramatic, beginning with an opening-weekend loss to Nebraska (15-13 in the fifth). Wednesday night, the Bruins played another epic match, losing in five at Washington as the Huskies won all three of their games by the minimum two-point margin (22-25, 30-28, 19-25, 28-26, 16-14.)

Despite entering the UCLA match undefeated, Washington was largely untested (a match against Purdue being the exception). Now, however, the Huskies have shown that they belong among the nation's elite.

The UCLA-Washington showdown featured a match-within-a-match aspect, namely a battle between the teams' slugging outside hitters. For the Huskies, it was sophomore Krista Vansant going against Bruin seniors Tabi Love and Rachael Kidder.

Based on the play-by-play sheet (which I accessed by going to the Huskies' schedule page and then clicking on the archived Gametracker for the UCLA match), I created the following chart of what I thought were the k…

Oregon Sweep of USC Highlights Weekend

Two nights after defeating No. 1 UCLA to move to 13-0 on the season, the USC women came crashing back to earth. Oregon came into USC's Galen Center on Friday night and swept the Trojans, 25-19, 25-15, 25-23. The Ducks, now 11-0, must be considered among the nation's elite at this point in the season.

Against the Bruins on Wednesday, the Trojans seemingly sided-out at will, winning points on 71% of UCLA's serves. On Friday, the Ducks took siding-out to a new level against the Trojans, reaching 77% effectiveness. In the first two games especially, Oregon's serve-return performance was spectacular, attaining side-out rates of 84 and 81 percent (box score).

The Ducks outhit the Trojans, .357-.189. Three Oregon players recorded superb hitting nights: outside hitter Liz Brenner, .577 (16 kills, 1 error, 26 attempts); OH Alaina Bergsma, .438 (18-4-32); and middle blocker Ariana Williams, .375 (8-2-16). UO attempted 115 spikes, only 14 of which resulted in errors (6 hit out-o…

No. 2 USC defeats No. 1 UCLA

No. 2 USC defeated No. 1 UCLA last night, 28-26, 25-20, 24-26, 25-17. The match kicked-off a series of Wednesday-night telecasts on ESPN-U.

In reading the game article on the Trojan athletic website, I was impressed with the writer's attention to putting statistical figures in context. Many volleyball articles mention the players who had the most kills. However, merely stating the number of kills does not tell us how many attempts were required or how many errors the same hitter also had. As shown in the following brief excerpt from the article, the writer always made sure to accompany players' kill totals with their numbers of errors and attempts, and hitting percentage on the night.

USC women's volleyball senior opposite Katie Fuller knocked down 21 kills (5e, 36att) and posted a .444 hitting percentage...

Fuller's 21 kills matched a career high, but the Trojans got a major contribution from freshman outside hitter Samantha Bricio who also matched her career mark wit…

Minnesota and Texas Split Matches in Austin

There's a new excitement surrounding University of Minnesota volleyball, with Hugh McCutcheon, who guided the U.S. men and women to, respectively, gold and silver in the last two Olympiad, taking over for retired coach Mike Hebert. The No. 14 Golden Gophers traveled down to Texas this past week for matches Thursday and Friday nights against the No. 4 Longhorns. The visit reciprocated a Texas trip to the Twin Cities last year, when the Gophers swept both matches.

This year, it was a split, with each match going four games (or sets). The Gophers won the opener by scores of 25-22, 25-13, 27-29, 29-27, whereas the Longhorns bounced back the following evening to win 25-20, 20-25, 25-22,  25-21. Here are the box scores for Thursday and Friday nights. I like these two-match series, as the added data provide a more reliable picture of how the teams are doing than the usual single match.

In Thursday night's Gopher win, offensive balance was the key. The following table shows the hitti…

Texas Tech Coaches Share Team's Internal Statistics

I am pleased to announce a major new development here at VolleyMetrics, involving a faculty-athletics collaboration at Texas Tech University. Head Coach Don Flora and Assistant Coach Jojit Coronel have agreed to share with me the team's internal statistical data, which are recorded with Data Volley software.

Today, I will present my first statistical analysis of these data. At this point, the Red Raiders have completed roughly half of their non-conference schedule, compiling a perfect 8-0 record thus far. On Tuesday, the Raider coaches sent me a batch of printouts. Each printout covers one match. I see one of my roles, therefore, as testing for trends across multiple matches. Although each printout contains information on Texas Tech and the team's opponent, I am only using data on the Red Raiders today.

For starters, I will examine the side-out rates and points won on serve for each of Texas Tech's six rotations on the court, to see if there are any noteworthy statistical …

Women's College Round-Up Aug. 31-Sept. 1, 2012

No. 4 Penn State hosted two other top-10 teams in the AVCA poll, No. 2 Texas and No. 9 Stanford, along with No. 18 Florida, this weekend in the Big Four Classic.

The Nittany Lions came away with the championship, outlasting Stanford in a five-set match Friday and then sweeping Texas on Saturday.

In the Penn State-Stanford match, four of the five games were decided by the minimum two points (the Lions' score is listed first for each game; 25-13, 25-27, 25-23, 23-25, 15-13). It was not a big-hitting match, on the whole, as the Nittany Lions bested the Cardinal .231 to .173 (box score). There were some notable individual hitting percentages, however.

For Penn State, sophomore outside-hitter Nia Grant (9-0-13, .692) and junior middle-blocker Katie Slay (10-0-21, .476) each turned in error-free hitting performances against the Cardinal. Teammate Ariel Scott (junior right-side hitter) took a whopping 85 swings (39% of the team’s 216 attack attempts), registering a .165 percentage. Sop…