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.]
One of the marquee matches of the current college men's season will take place Friday night, as No. 1 USC visits No. 3 (and defending national champion) Stanford. Before we get to the statistical analysis, here's some background on each team. USC and Stanford have some common denominators: Each has had its ups and downs in recent seasons, each team relies on some big power-hitters, and tempo appears to be a major factor in each team's success. This year's Trojans have a lot of the same core players as their 2009 squad, which lost a five-game national championship match to University of California, Irvine. One would have thought that 'SC would contend strongly for the 2010 NCAA title considering how many top players it returned, but for whatever reason, the Trojans floundered badly , finishing the year 16-11 and nowhere near title contention. USC has righted the ship this year, however, currently standing at 16-1, with its only loss coming February 11 at Pepper
Ball State University newspaper reporter-turned-blogger Vinnie Lopes has an excellent site for men's college volleyball, called Off the Block . Vinnie's reporting includes statistical analysis, although stats are not necessarily the major focus. Because men's volleyball has far fewer teams at the college level than the women's game and television coverage of the two varies accordingly, it takes some effort to stay informed about the men's game. Vinnie does a lot of the work for his readers, however, with weekly previews of key men's matches (including links for following them on the Internet), article compilations, and discussion of national rankings.