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Showing posts from November, 2012

Ranking the 64 NCAA Women's Teams on the Conference-Adjusted Combined Offensive-Defensive (CACOD) Metric

With the NCAA Division I women's volleyball tournament scheduled to begin play on Thursday, I am unveiling my second annual ranking of the tournament teams on the Conference-Adjusted Combined Offensive-Defensive (CACOD) metric. Though the CACOD is extremely simple to calculate (see below), it held its own with the more established volleyball ranking systems (e.g., Pablo, RPI, Rich Kern) in predicting match outcomes of last year's women's NCAA tournament.

In fact, only three quantities go into the CACOD formula: a team's hitting percentage for the entire season, the hitting percentage the team allowed its opposition to achive (cumulatively) on the season, and a conference-difficulty factor that I determine. I wrote last year about hitting percentage being "a great singular statistic for incorporating many aspects of the game." As I elaborated:

If you hit well (not just keep the ball in play, but get kills), your (individual or team) hitting percentage goes up. …

Bruin OH's Kidder and Love Play Regular-Season Finale as Trojans Visit UCLA

Defending NCAA champion UCLA hosts USC in the Bruins' regular-season finale tonight, marking the final pre-tournament home appearance for UCLA seniors Rachael Kidder, Tabi Love, and Bojana Todorovic. Outside hitters Kidder and Love have been the mainstays of the UCLA offense. Accordingly, I decided to examine the Bruins' win-loss records this season when Kidder alone, Love alone, both of them, or neither of them had strong hitting nights.

I chose a .300 hitting percentage to define "strong" hitting. Volleyball announcers often make an analogy to baseball hitting, saying that a .300 average in either sport is a sign of success. Also, using .300 as the dividing line breaks UCLA's 28 matches into mostly equal-sized groups. My analysis is summarized in the following graph, on which you can click to enlarge.



The blue bar shows that when Kidder and Love both hit .300 or better in the same match, the Bruins are a perfect 8-0 (1.000 winning percentage). The only problem …

Wild Weekend in the Pac 12

An amazing finish in the Oregon at Washington match and a resurgence by USC against the northern California schools are the big stories in this weekend's Pac-12 play.

The Huskies fought off no fewer than 14 match points to defeat the Ducks, 26-24, 16-25, 21-25, 32-30, 25-23. Keeping in mind that fifth games are to 15 points, we see how deeply into overtime the decisive set went. Two of the match points were in Game 4 and 12 were in Game 5. As the linked article notes, "Making the run all the more impressive was that it came without UW's offensive leader, sophomore Krista Vansant, who landed awkwardly and suffered what appears to be a sprained ankle early in the fourth set, and did not return to the match."

Several players were able to maintain hitting percentages of .300 or better over a large number of attempts (box score). For Oregon, they included Liz Brenner (.410; 22 kills and 6 errors on 39 attempts) and Alaina Bergsma (.302; 31-12-63). For Washington, they …

Michigan Hitting Attack Comes Alive

For most of this season, I haven't had much to write about my graduate-school alma mater, the University of Michigan. Over their last five matches, however, the Wolverines have been playing their best volleyball of the season. They are 5-0 during this stretch, including wins over then-No. 4 Nebraska and then-No. 10 Minnesota (game-by-game log).

Michigan has greatly elevated its hitting performance during these matches, as shown in the following graph (on which you can click to enlarge). The graph depicts the hitting percentages for four leading Wolverine hitters (different shades and styles of blue), and the team as a whole (yellow), in all of the team's conference matches to date.


The first thing to notice is that, until the recent hot streak (indicated by the red arrow), Michigan as a team had hit at or below .200 in most of its matches, a fairly anemic level. In its five most recent matches, in contrast, Michigan's hitting percentages have ranged from .298 to .460. Even…

Nebraska Slumping of Late

Perennial power Nebraska heads into this weekend's homestand vs. Indiana (tonight) and Purdue (tomorrow) with three losses in its last four matches. After dropping their Big 10 opener at Penn State -- certainly no crime -- the Cornhuskers won nine straight. The next time out, seemingly out of nowhere, Nebraska fell at home to Ohio State in four games, before rebounding to beat then-No. 1 Penn State in five. A winless trip to Michigan and Michigan State followed, with the loss to the Wolverines particularly jarring because the Huskers had led two games to none.

The Huskers' season to date is nicely encapsulated in this weekend's match notes from the Nebraska athletic department. Given the importance of hitting percentage in teams' success, I decided to plot Nebraska's hitting percentages for all of its conference matches so far this season, for the team as a whole and for the five players who take the most swings (you may click on the following graphic to enlarge i…

Upset Friday!

Last night saw four major upsets, three of which were in the Pac 12. All four of the victorious teams were unranked in the latest AVCA national poll. No. 2 Oregon lost at home in five to Cal, No. 4 Nebraska squandered a two-games-to-none lead and fell at Michigan, No. 5 UCLA was swept at Arizona, and No. 6 USC was swept at Arizona State.

UCLA really seems to have a hard time with Arizona, for whatever reason. Even though the Bruins ultimately won last year's NCAA title, they lost both 2011 regular-season matches to the Wildcats. This year, the teams split, with UCLA winning at home on October 7, before last night's Arizona win. In order to get an idea of what might be going on, I've created the following table of key statistics for the last four matches between the Bruins and Wildcats (box-score links are at the top of each column; H% = hitting percentage). My usual warnings about concluding too much from small samples apply, however. 


2011@Ariz2011@UCLA2012@UCLA2012@ArizU…

Hitting Charts for Washington vs. USC/UCLA

This past weekend, the University of Washington women went down to Los Angeles where they lost matches to USC (in five games) and UCLA (in four). Both matches were televised on the Pac 12 Network, so I was able to compile hitting charts for selected games from both matches. You may click on the following graphics to enlarge them.

My notation and terminology are evolving as I create these diagrams. One recent development is that, if you see "IP" only, it means a hit attempt was kept in play due to being dug, whereas IP accompanied by "b reboot" means that the hit attempt was blocked back to the attacking team, which had to start over with a new attack. As I have noted previously, I'm doing my best to identify the player who took each spike attempt, but sometimes I'm only able to identify the team of the attacker. First, we have Game 4 of the USC-Washington match...


Next, we have two diagrams for Games 3 and 4, respectively, of the UCLA-Washington contest...