July 30, 2015

Lefty Middle or Right Side?


My daughter is 15 years old, 5'11" and left-handed.

She plays on a club team that has competed at the National Championships the last two seasons (2nd in American in 2014, and 13th in National in 2015), and started varsity at a large class high school as a freshman.  Last season she played RS for high school and MB for club.  Now she will probably play MB for high school, but her club coach is talking to her about moving to RS for next club season.  Her club coach said she is getting some feedback from one of the DI colleges we have reached out to that she needs to move to RS for college recruiting purposes.  This is also her coaches' alma mater.

We've always heard that the right side is where she will probably end up playing in college, since she's left-handed.  However, looking at recent rosters, especially DI, I'm seeing more and more of the height moving to the right side and a lot of girls at 5'11" - 6'0" still at MB.  

Can you explain the reason for this trend and the pros and cons of MB vs. RS for her situation (height and left-handed)?

Thanks for your help.


I played with a left handed middle when I was a professional athlete in Europe, and that is the only time in my setting career.  Off the top of my head, I cannot remember the last time I saw a collegiate left handed middle blocker?

Because of the geometry of volleyball, the left handed players dominantly play the right side of the net, seldom the left side and never the middle.  The middle attack options are based upon right handed players, with the slide being the dominant play and then the quick middle (called an A or 1); these two attack options are extremely difficult for setters to connect with left handed players.

Conversely, left handed players on the right side are fantastic - Their left handedness opens up many attack options which are better performed by them, than a right handed player.

Without hesitation, moving your daughter from the middle to the right side, is the best thing to do for your college recruiting and collegiate future.  Especially if she has the blocking mentality of a middle, applied to the right side block!!!

Don't focus on height for the MB vs RS position, focus on getting her into the best suited geometric position for being left handed, which is opposite the setter (on the RS) - If she is a tall RS, then that is just icing on the recruiting cake!


July 27, 2015

Set or Hit as a college volleyball recruit?

Coach Sonnichsen,

I will be a junior in high school this year and I have a question about how to present myself for recruiting to play volleyball in college.  I want to play for a competitive program and scholarship dollars will be an important factor in where I decide to attend school.  I have been with NCSA for over a year and I have been very active in my recruiting process.

I am 5'-10" and a pretty solid all around player.  I have great quickness which allows me to make many difficult saves and I believe that I have a high volleyball IQ because I have been playing club, school and beach for so long.  Most of the time I have been a setter, but in 2014 I was moved to the outside because we needed more offense and let my team in kills.  This past club season we ran a 6-2 so that I could set and hit.  

I think that at 5'-10" my best chance at a truly competitive school is as a setter, but I also know that setters aren't as popular with most rosters only carrying 2.  So my question is how do I best present myself to colleges?  As a setter, a hitter or an all around player who knows how to win and who they want on their team?  Being a setter is my preference, but I have gotten responses from schools saying that they do not need a setter in 2017, but they need a hitter and I don't want them to discount me.  I just want to give myself every opportunity to get into a great college program.

Thanks for all of your help,

By your email, you have talent in two distinct positions; as a setter and as an attacker.  This can be good but it also can scatter your recruiting focus/outreach.

My suggestions:

- Use this fall high school volleyball season to determine which position you enjoy playing the most.

-  If it is as a setter, you need to adjust your recruiting mindset to one of perseverance and patience.  Setters tend to be secured later in the recruiting process than attackers.

-  Should collegiate setting be your goal, then you should try to obtain a club spot where you are running a 5-1 offense, as this is the dominant offense in college volleyball and college coaches will want their incoming setters comfortable with the many facets of this offense.  6-2 offense is a great time as a setter because you get to hit and set, but it does not help you as much in your transition to collegiate volleyball.

-  At this juncture of the recruiting calendar (mid summer until later fall), it is a slow time; college coaches are focused on many other necessary items of their job and personal life, rather than chasing down rising upper clansmen recruits.  Also, many collegiate programs won't know exactly what they need in the 2016/2017 class until the fall collegiate season gets under way.

-  Stay active in your use of NCSA Athletic Recruiting and your outreach - The college program who said they did not need a 2017 setter yesterday, may need one tomorrow and it is the setter who made that extra effort to reach out again, which will garner their attention!

- From a pure playing level perspective, a 5'10 talented setter will play at a higher level of college volleyball than a 5'10" talented outside hitter.

Good luck and keep managing the process!