Volleyball pulls out the big guns

Hasani Grayson

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Using a radar gun during volleyball practice may seem unusual to some, but for the Wolf Pack coaching staff, it’s part of assessing the team’s serving ability.

“It’s something we do every day in practice. We’re measuring their speed, we’re measuring their accuracy and we’re measuring their ability to get the ball to move,” head coach Tommy Harold said. “What gets measured gets managed, and what gets managed gets done. So you can’t just go out and serve 100 balls. You’ve got to have some connections to what you’re doing.”

Most of the serves at a recent practice were clocked between 38 and 45 m.p.h. as the ball traveled over the net, but with different serving styles, speed is just part of what Harold is looking for from a good serve.

Harold said there are three main types of serving styles. Depending on the strengths of the opponent, Harold will try to use players who will create mismatches for the opponent’s defense.

One serving style that can create trouble for defenders is the standing-float.

“Hopefully it’s got some movement,” Harold said. “It’s a bit like a knuckle ball where you’re trying to take some spin off the ball.”

Harold went on to say that the jump-float serving style has a similar effect on the ball, except that the ball is delivered at different angles with more velocity.

One of the players who has done well with the jump-float this season is political science junior Sam Worsham. Worsham is leading the team in service aces per game with .6 and has a total of 36 for the season.

“Samantha hits a jump-float with some velocity and gives people some trouble,” Harold said.

While velocity is something that coaches always keep their eyes on during practice, Harold doesn’t want speed to come at the expense of control.

“(Velocity) varies from player to player,” Harold said. “But we’re looking for that range where they can be accurate and still have movement on the ball.”

Harold pointed out that in addition to Wosham, environmental business sophomore Becca Burnett has a more controlled serve and is able to better hit her spots.

With the team ranked tenth in the NAIA in service aces per game, Harold thinks the serving game has stepped up since the season started.

“I think it’s getting better,” he said. “I think it’s something that’s always integral to our success.”

Hasani Grayson can be reached at [email protected]

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