April 25, 2010

Notes from a Qualifier

As I sit and watch my 800th volleyball match of the Qualifier, I start to fuzz out and random volleyball thoughts wander into my head:

* I theorize that the volume of talented middle blockers have fallen in recent years, as a result of rally score. Rally score emphasizes the outside hitter position and club coaches/PSA's/Families have realized that moving an athletic, coordinated MB to the OH position will create more recruiting opportunities as college coaches are pounding the pavement (or concrete) to secure taller OH's. What I am seeing are MB's that are very tall or not too tall and for both, not as good as in the past. Sure, there are many stud MB's out there, but on average, I have noticed the position vacate talent to the OH.

* It is disappointing to see some college programs using three coaches at Qualifiers to recruit - In case any reader is curios, it is against NCAA rules. Whether is it via Club affiliations (in which you are supposed to stay on their court and not put on your college jacket to wander the facility and recruit) or having 3 coaches rotating through the gym over a 3 day tournament, when there is no way one coach can make it back to the campus before the other steps into the facility.

* Officials need more time between refereeing matches. When I start to zone out after watching too much volleyball, nothing happens other than I look goofy. When an official starts to zone out after watching too many matches, the outcome is altered. I witnessed a few matches where the official did not make an obvious call, which resulted in the wrong team winning a match, which resulted in the wrong team moving into the gold bracket. Everyone gets tired, but something needs to be done for the competitors sake to keep the officials as fresh as possible.

* National Qualifiers are a stark reminder of just how many talented athletes slip through the recruiting processes of college programs. We can't know about all the talent on the far side of the country, but when I see a very good player, from a nearby state for the first time, who I know is now committed somewhere else, it just makes me think, how did I miss this kid? Too many club teams, too many talented players, too many tournaments and not enough brain power on my end!!!

* I can't imagine the team chemistry problems that college coaches must create for club coaches/teams by recruiting the 16's (and I guess 15's ) class heavily. You take a bit of a selfish athlete, who is still mentally maturing, with good talent and a bigger ego, then start parading the Top 10 college coaches around her court each with an offer on the table - this must be like adding helium to the balloon.

* College Volleyball Head Coaches in cargo shorts at a Qualifier? Amazing.

* Host clubs/regions should be ashamed to allow facilities to charge the amount of money they do for admission. Asking families to pay $12.00 per ticket to come see their child play the sport they are already paying the privilege to play is just maddening. I could turn a blind eye to a couple of bucks admission, but this is just reeks of fleecing a captive audience - It is like food prices in airports. Some people anguish over how monied the sport of volleyball is; well charging $12.00 to walk in the door is not helping the image of our sport as being rich and elitist. Even if you live close, you are spending almost $200.00 bucks over the weekend to park and and take the family to go see Sis play volleyball.

* Are other sports as caught up in the protocols of their sport? I see the Officials going nuts if the players don't line up correctly before coming onto the court, get all aggravated when the players don't go around the court when switching games (how are they supposed to do this when 'around the court' means walking onto the concrete, around the barrels, slaloming through grandma and grandpa?). Guess it does not register to call the double hit on the set, when the paint is coming off the ball because it is spinning so fast, but my gosh you will walk around the pole when you switch sides.

* I am noticing a trend away from sportsmanship lately - Not in the treatment of referees or coaches, but rather the interaction between teams. Club teams seem to like little cheers or scripted reactions to certain plays, like a stuff block or ace serve, but recently I have seen these scripted cheers becoming much more confrontational and directed towards the other team. I witnessed too many teams, being very disrespectful through the net as a unit in an obvious display of unsportsmanlike behavior. It really is ugly and I have always believed one of the beauties of our sport is that the teams will play hard and with emotion, but keep this emotion on their side of the net. What was even more disturbing, was that the Officials were not shutting down this behavior.

* The jump and armswing motion by middle blockers on a slide or quick approach when they don't get set, does not fool anyone, as the blockers on the other team have already released to where the ball was actually set.

* Amazed by how many serves teams will miss. In a 25 point game, there are a finite number of serving opportunities, so not only do you provide points to the opponent, you waste one of your limited chances to serve the ball. In college, we also miss too many serves, but in college volleyball you see coaches very active in managing the serving process - Something along the lines of "DON'T MISS THIS SERVE" or the more karma correct "KEEP THIS SERVE IN". Point runs are the key to winning rally score volleyball and you can only create point runs by making your serves.

* While Qualifiers seem to have a shopping mall located once you walk in the facility doors (I swear I saw Home Depot had a booth for all the dads), I do like the photography services available. I did not check out the prices and I don't expect them to be cheap, but they do use some cameras which look to be rather nice, thus resulting in high quality photos. I would think this is a nice option for a family to see if there were any good pictures of their daughter playing and then spend the money.

Other than when can can I go get some coffee, these were things bouncing around in my head!

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