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.]
Over at the VolleyTalk discussion site, frequent contributor "P-Dub" raises an interesting question about hitting percentage, defined as: (kills-errors)/total attacks. Player A: 6/3/15 Player B: 3/0/15 Both players have hit .200, but the first has done it with more kills and more errors. Which of these contributions is better? To answer the question -- in theory, if not in practice -- P-Dub suggests looking at what the defensive team does with the balls the offensive team has neither put away (kills) nor failed to place in-bounds on the other side of the net (errors); in other words, what happens to the balls that remain in play? For example, if a team is really good at converting opponents' non-kills into its own kills, then the aforementioned Player B's 3/0/15 line isn't good, because it gives the other team 12 opportunities to produce its own kills. This seems like a productive line of thinking, but it would be good to add some actual data to the debate.
Yesterday was the home opener at my university, Texas Tech, as the Red Raiders hosted Texas A&M in Big 12 play. It was also the home debut for new Tech coach Trish Knight , who faces an enormous rebuilding job. Prior to Knight's arrival, Tech had lost 39 straight conference matches. After yesterday's 25-15, 25-11, 25-17 shellacking by the Aggies, the streak is now at 41 (the Raiders lost a Big 12 road match before returning home to play Texas A&M). With pencil, paper, and camera in hand, I decided to focus my statistical analysis yesterday on the serve-receipt success of Texas Tech's six rotations. I took the following picture (which you can click on to enlarge) during Game 3. We see that for the Red Raiders (near court), No. 11 (Amanda Dowdy) is front left, No. 4 (setter Caroline Witte) is front center, No. 13 (Barbara Conceicao) is front right, No. 1 (Hayley Ball) is back right, No. 10 (Aleah Hayes) is back center (her number doesn't show in the pictu
I recently discovered that the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) makes its bimonthly magazine, Coaching Volleyball , free online . Naturally, I reviewed the last several issues in search of any statistically oriented articles and I hit paydirt. UC San Diego assistant men's coach Tristan Burton , who earned a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from Stanford with a 2003 dissertation entitled "Fully Resolved Simulations of Particle-Turbulence Interaction," contributed an article to the latest (August/September 2009) issue of Coaching Volleyball . The title of Burton's AVCA article says it all: "A Comprehensive Statistics System for Volleyball Match Analysis." Whether using the game (set) or match as the unit of analysis, the system decomposes the final total point difference between the teams into seven categories. As a concrete example, Burton uses the 2008 Olympic men's semifinal between the U.S. and Russia . With the U.S. winning 25-