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.]
The NCAA women's Final Four, beginning tonight, will feature No. 1-seeded Penn State vs. No. 5 Nebraska, and No. 2 Florida vs. No. 3 Stanford. The bracket has thus stuck pretty closely to the chalk, although we easily could have had No. 10-seed USC instead of Florida, the Trojans having held a match-point over the Gators in Game 4 of the teams' five-game contest. Florida's match-winning score was 25-23 , 20-25 , 18-25 , 26-24 , 15-11 . One of the key turnaround factors for Florida was the improved hitting of Carli Snyder as the match progressed. As shown in the box score , Snyder had only two kills in the first three games combined (both in Game 2), seven in Game 4, and two in Game 5. In the post-game quotes , USC coach Mick Haley explained the situation in terms of a shift in USC's lineup apparently geared at increasing the Trojans' offensive firepower at the cost of losing their most effective blocking match-up on Snyder: “What happened is they got [Carli Sn
The first two rounds of this year's NCAA women's tourney were completed this weekend and there were several casualties among seeded teams. We lost No. 8 Washington (to Illinois), No. 9 Creighton (to Michigan State), No. 12 Baylor (to Colorado), No. 14 Iowa State (to Wisconsin), and No. 16 Wichita State (to Mizzou). In addition, No. 4 Kentucky and No. 10 USC were taken to five games before prevailing, vs. Western Kentucky and San Diego, respectively. One might be tempted to say there's increasing parity among top teams. However, three of the upsets were engineered by unseeded Big Ten (B1G) teams, so it's hardly the case that teams from mid-major conferences are displacing ones from the power leagues. In fact, the B1G has six teams remaining (No. 1 Penn State, No. 5 Nebraska, and No. 7 Minnesota, in addition to the unseeded teams listed above). The Pac 12 is close behind, with five remaining teams (No. 3 Stanford, No. 10 USC, No. 11 Utah, No. 15 UCLA, and unseeded
The bracket for this year's NCAA women's tournament was announced Sunday night and play begins Thursday. One aspect of the draw raising some eyebrows is the No. 4 national seed for Kentucky (behind Penn State, Florida, and Stanford). The Wildcats went 17-1 in the SEC, splitting two matches with Florida, and 26-3 overall ( match-by-match log ). UK's two nonconference losses were to Creighton (9th seed in the NCAA field) and Kansas, whereas the Wildcats' best nonconference wins were over USC (10th seed) and Utah (11th seed). Using my Conference-Adjusted Combined Offensive-Defensive (CACOD) rating system (described here ), I peg Kentucky as having the 13th-best chance to win the national title. The chart below (which you can click on to enlarge) shows the CACOD rating (under "adjratio") for each of the 16 seeded teams. A team's own hitting percentage during the season is one of the major components of the CACOD and the Wildcats' (.321) was one of the b
No. 2 Penn State suffered its first loss of the season last night, as Nebraska came into State College and swept the Nittany Lions , 26-24, 25-19, 25-20. The number that caught my eye was the Huskers' hitting percentage of .347. This was the highest hitting percentage Penn State had allowed an opponent since Minnesota put up a .374 in sweeping the Nittany Lions on October 29, 2016 in Minneapolis. Nebraska entered the match with three losses on the season, to highly ranked Oregon and Florida in an opening-weekend tournament, and to Northern Iowa on September 16. As noted, Penn State's ledger was perfect before last night and included a pair of wins over defending national champion Stanford.
Over at Volleyball Magazine , each day they're releasing a preview of the upcoming women's season in a different conference. There's a lot of good information on each team in a given conference, including returnees, losses, and newcomers. I'll link to each preview as it comes out: ACC Big 12 B1G (Big Ten) Pac 12 SEC
A little over a week ago, for the second straight year, Ohio State swept BYU for the NCAA men's championship. Whereas last year's result was somewhat of a surprise, this year's was less so, as the Buckeyes were the host team for the Final Four. As the following chart shows, similarity between the last two years' title matches went beyond the identities of the teams involved and the score. In particular, Ohio State's hitting percentage, as a team, was extremely similar in the 2016 and 2017 finals. BYU's spike attempts totaled 71 last year and 70 this year; each of these substantially trailed OSU's respective number of attempts, suggesting Cougar problems with serve-receipt, passing, and staying in-system. Statistic 2017 ( Box Score ) 2016 ( Box Score ) Score OSU (25-19, 25-20, 25-22) OSU (32-30, 25-23, 25-17) OSU Hitting Pct. .358 (42-13-81) .374 (51-17-91) Nicolas Szerszen .(OSU) H% .480 (16