October 31, 2012

Club Volleyball Position and College Volleyball Recruiting


    We've run across a problem I've not seen covered in your book or blogs.
    My daughter is coming up on her 16's club year.  She plays for a very good club.  They qualified and played at the USAV Nationals as 15's in the Open 
category.  My daughter is 6'1" and plays outside hitter.  She has received numerous letters and questionnaires putting her on many college's watch lists.
    Here's the problem and I know the answer really depends upon the girl, but some general insight would be appreciated.
    Due to the fact her team did so well last year, girls are coming from other teams to our club's clinics.  Her coach has found herself with a wealth of outside hitters, but she is also very happy with the 2 main hitters she has from last year.  My daughter being one of the two.  Last week the club owner and the coach approached my daughter and asked her if she would play right side. She hits the right as well as she hits the outside and she is a monster at the net as a blocker.  They feel this can strengthen the overall team.  In exchange, they'll let her set.  (My daughter has been taking setting lessons for the last 6 months to improve her hands).
    I know it's a very strange club.  They actually try to take the girls feelings and desires in to account.
   So here's the question. I know that the 16's is a critical year.  What will colleges think about her changing positions?  
   Any insight would be helpful in helping my daughter make up her mind.
   Thank you, A VolleyDad  

Glad to help - I think the question should be "what position does your daughter want to play?".  With as specialized as NCAA Division I Volleyball has become, the term Outside Hitter no longer applies to all three positions which attack the ball near the antennae.

OH1 needs to bang left, but can hide in the serve receive pattern. OH2 needs to have great ball control, but does not need to have the left side power of an OH1.  The Right Side must block and give a backside attack option, but will not need ball control because most RS players get subbed out back row (not all, but a higher percentage do).

As for setting, there is a huge difference between setting lesson and 'running a team'.  If your daughter wants to go DI and upper DI, then getting a chance to set as a return for playing right side is a poor trade.  DI coaches will enjoy her height, but a number of us got burned by tall, marginal setters in the past and now we trade skill for height in the setting position.  Honestly, it is probably too late for her to become a setter at the same ability (and recruiting attractiveness) she enjoys as an OH now.

All this being said; what does she want to play right now, and what is her projected position in college?  As a taller Sophomore on a national level club team, this is a key year in the evaluation process.  This is the year college coaches will rank and recruit her accordingly.

If she wants to be a setter in college, then she needs to move forward in this position to run a team (it is so much more than just setting the ball).  If she wants to be a passing left side attacker, then she must focus on that.  Right side is fun because you get to block a bunch of balls and many time get prime sets because right sides don't get the broken play ball garbage sets.  

What I don't want to see her do is become a jack of all trades.  In college, they will move her where they need her based on so many influences beyond her control.  But in club, since the money is coming from you/her/tooth fairy, she needs to decide where she wants to play and part of this determination is based upon collegiate position potential.

Coach Matt Sonnichsen

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