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Showing posts from November, 2007

"Natural Experiment" Compares How Texas Tech Hit Before and After Change of Setters

The women's volleyball team at Texas Tech University, where I'm on the faculty, just finished a Big 12 season that seems hard to describe as anything other than a disaster. After winning their conference opener against Colorado, the Red Raiders lost all 19 of their remaining Big 12 matches (Oklahoma State does not field a team in this sport, meaning that each partcipating school faces 10 opponents, twice each). In Texas Tech's final 11 matches, it only won one game (i.e., 10 times it was swept 3-0 and once lost by a 3-1 score). Above is a photo I took at Tech's home match against Iowa State, relatively early in conference play. Among the misfortunes experienced by the Raiders, senior setter Emily Ziegler went out -- for the season, it turned out -- after the eighth Big 12 match with a foot injury that required surgery ( here and here ). Replacing Ziegler for the Raiders' remaining 12 conference matches was Kourtney Dunnam , whose path to the Texas Tech s

Perfect Hitting Night for Nebraska's Tracy Stalls

The story coming out of the University of Nebraska volleyball building tonight, quoting from this news release , is that: Tracy Stalls tied an NCAA record by putting down 13 kills on 13 swings for a perfect 1.000 attack percentage, as the Husker volleyball team sent Stalls and NU's three other seniors out in style Saturday night with a 30-18, 30-10, 30-11 sweep of Texas Tech. For those not all that familiar with volleyball statistics, what this means is that 13 times the ball was set up for Stalls to swing at, and all 13 times she delivered balls that the Red Raiders could not field. Stalls hit no balls into the net, nor out of bounds, had no balls blocked back in her face by Texas Tech, and did not even have any balls dug up by the Red Raiders in the backcourt. Now, that's a hot hand! [Cross-posted at my Hot Hand blog, for the study of sports streakiness.]

Home-Court Advantage in Volleyball

One of the most widely discussed phenomena across a number of sports is the home-court (or home-field) advantage (HFA). According to Cecil Adams, who fields readers' questions on a website called The Straight Dope : Perusing a comprehensive recent study ("Long-term trends in home advantage in professional team sports in North America and England [1876-2003]," Pollard and Pollard, 2005), I note as follows: (a) since 1900, notwithstanding some year-to-year swings, MLB home-field winning percentages have been remarkably stable at about .540 ; (b) the NFL HFA fluctuates a lot, no doubt because fewer games means more statistical noise, but home-field wins are usually in the 55 to 60 percent range; (c) NHL home-ice wins have declined from 60 percent in the 70s to a pretty steady 55 percent since the mid-90s; (d) NBA home-court wins dropped from 65 percent in the mid-80s to 60 percent in recent years, still the highest of the U.S. sports studied; and (e) HFA shows up in UK