Volleyball 101

Since I know all of you are going to stop by Gregory Gym at least once this season to watch our girls play, I thought I'd give you a quick overview of the basic game of volleyball.  This is from Wikipedia:

"Player specialization
Players do not usually master all six skills, but rather focus on one or more of them in connection with the tactics employed by each team. The most common specialization comprises three positions: attacker/blocker (also differentiated in "outside" and "middle"), setter and liberos (defensive specialist).

Generally, taller players with the ability to jump high are utilized as attackers/blockers, where they attempt to block or spike opponents' initial hits and return the ball at high speed on steep trajectories so that the ball lands before the other team has time to react.

Setters have the task for orchestrating the offense of the team. They aim for second touch and their main responsibility is to place the ball in the air where the attackers can hit the ball into the opponents' court in the easiest way possible. They have to be able to operate with the hitters with variety and break up the enemy's block. Setters need to have swift and skillful appraisal and tactical accuracy, and must be quick at moving around the court.

Liberos are defensive specialists, who are responsible for receiving the attack or serve (the dig) and are usually the players on the court with the quickest reaction time and best passing skills. Liberos do not necessarily need to be tall, as they never play at the net, allowing shorter players with strong passing skills to excel. A player designated as a libero for a match may not play other roles during that match.

Middle blockers or Middle hitters are players that can perform very fast attacks that usually take place near the setter. They are specialized in blocking, since they must attempt to stop equally fast plays from their opponents and then quickly set up a double block at the sides of the court. In general they are the tallest players, but are often less skillful defensive players.

Outside hitters, also known as power hitters, attack from near the antennas. Since most sets to the outside are high, the outside hitter may take a longer approach, sometimes even starting from outside the court sideline. An outside hitter generally relies on a powerful swing to score, but some offensive plays may call for an angled approach and/or quick attacks to confound the defense. Outside hitters must also master passing, since they generally help the libero in receiving the opponent's serve. A strong-side hitter is an outside hitter that specializes in attacking from the front-left position. This hitting position is advantageous for a right-handed hitter, because the set will come from the right, and can therefore be delivered efficiently to the hitting arm. Conversely, the attacker in the front-right position is the weak-side hitter. Since the set is coming from his left, a right-handed hitter in the weak-side position will have to swing across his body to attack. Thus, left-handedness can be a desirable quality in a weak-side hitter."

In the NCAA game, we have Outside Hitters (OH) and Opposite Hitters (OPP), not strongside/weakside hitters, but you get the drift.

Now, on to this week's games.

After making a miracle recovery on Saturday afternoon to beat Kansas State in 5 games, the Texas Longhorns travel to Ames, Iowa to take on the ISU Cyclones.  This is one of those games that I thought Texas would win in 3 at the beginning of the year.  ISU has had an up and down season so far, and doesn't have the athletes to match up with Texas.  They have gotten swept by Nebraska and OU (not surprising), swept Baylor and Kansas, and beat K-State in 5 in Manhattan.  But Texas lost to ISU in Ames last year, and has been shaky on the road.  Texas can't afford to drop another Big XII game, but this one has upset written all over it.

If Texas survives this one, they get a bit of breather with Baylor coming to town Friday night.  Baylor looked good in OOC play, but have stumbled in Big 12 play, with losses to Nebraska, Missouri and ISU, and a 3-2 win over lowly Tech in Waco.  A 3-0 win over the Bears would be a great confidence booster for Texas before their games against the Aggies in B/CS and Nebraska at Gregory.

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