This spring Jason Watson, head coach of the Arizona State Women’s Volleyball team has invited me in to his gym as an assistant coach.  After a much needed three year break from college coaching, I’m excited to be back in the gym.

One of the highlights of spring practice thus far has been the libero battle.  We have two very good liberos who are both worthy of playing time.  Two weeks ago we drove up to Northern Arizona for a spring tournament.  Both Liberos played throughout the day, and on the drive home we evaluated some of their numbers.

We generated a data volley report that tracks how our hitters perform based on the quality of the pass (and dig) by Libero.  Some of the results could be assumed, but there was an interesting trend that only statistics could reveal.

First, our team is significantly better when hitting off of perfect passes and digs.  This is the case with most teams (obviously).  However, the gap on our team is huge.  For example, on any given day we could hit .300 on 3-point passes and negative .200 on 1-point passes.  The good news is we know what we need to work on in practice.

The number that struck my attention was hitting efficiency based on the type of dig or pass.  We have this statistic broken down by Libero.  When Libero A passed a 3-point ball, our hitters were above .250.  When Libero B passed a 3-point ball, our hitters were significantly lower.  The same trend appeared for digs.  When Libero A made a perfect dig, our hitting efficiency was much higher than when libero B made a perfect dig.  How can this be?

After chatting with Jason, along with some discussions with our advisory members, we determined that Libero A’s passes and digs were a higher quality 3-point pass than Libero B.  We call this a “perfect perfect” pass.  Many of our advisory members rank this type of pass a 4-point pass.

If you think about how we rank passes and digs, most of the time it’s where the ball lands that determines our rank.  However, the height of the pass (or dig) can make a huge difference in terms of the quality of swings we get, especially in transition.

I would recommend implementing some type of “perfect perfect” stat in your gym, and ensure you are collecting hitting percentages by libero.  Like me, you may be shocked at the results.

Mike Wall – Gold Medal Squared