> We've had some differences of opinion here on the setting calls;
> who should call the sets, and all that.
This falls under the general heading of "team offense". Every team does
it differently. There are several different systems/schools of
thought/levels of difficulty that try to address the issue of delegating
the responsibility for deciding who's hitting what. Here's a rough
spectrum of offensive systems, from lowest complexity (requiring little
team practice and coordination) to highest complexity (requiring a high
level of team coordination).
ASSUMPTIONS. Nobody says anything (sigh). Setter sets whatever he
thinks will work. Usually, this is a high outside set in whatever
direction the setter is facing. This is typical of pick-up volleyball
between friends, where you play with whoever shows up. There's
usually no middle attack to speak of in such games.
RANDOM AUDIBLES. Everybody calls (or signals) what they want. It's up
to the setter to figure out what to do. This is a step up from
ASSUMPTIONS, because now hitters can audible into simple combinations.
However, it can go very wrong when hitters call for contradictory
sets, or encroach upon other hitters' zones (especially when the
middle hitter follows a bad set and wanders into the outside hitter's
approach lane). Sometimes a pick-up game can reach this level, but it
requires hitters who can reliably hit what they call for, and setters
who can set anything on a moment's notice.
SIMPLE PLAYS. The team has practiced running a few simple combinations,
e.g. X's and tandems, and has come up with names and/or hand signals
to indicate them. At this level, it's usually the setter who calls or
signals these plays; this guarantees that the n > 1 hitters involved
in the combination (1) get the same message and (2) don't contradict
MEMORIZED PLAYBOOK. The team has developed a fixed set of combinations,
and has practiced all of them to achieve some degree of proficiency
and smoothness. The setter calls out or signals the play (e.g.
"Eighty-five wing-Z! Eighty-five wing-Z! Hut hut HUT!"), and
everybody runs it. This is a lot like football. It seems to be the
lowest level of collegiate varsity offenses; any decently coached
program should do at least this.
The advantage of this system is its simplicity; it doesn't take long
to learn such a system, and it's very easy to use during a rally. The
disadvantage is, of course, its inflexibility. If an opportunity
opens up during a rally, or there is a perpetual flaw in the defense
that a hitter can exploit (such as a short blocker), but there's no
play in the playbook that attacks that specific weakness, then this
system cannot reliably take advantage of that weakness. Also, this
system places the burden of offensive thinking on the wrong person,
namely the setter. Contrary to football, in which the quarterback in
the deep drop can look over the entire field and get the "big
picture", a setter is usually watching the ball until after it is set.
So not only does the setter not know where the opposing blockers and
diggers are, he/she rarely knows where all of his or her *own* hitters
are. Thus, the setter in this system is faced with the unenviable
task of selecting a plan of attack using uncertain resources against
an unknown defense.
COMPLEMENTARY AUDIBLES. The team has practiced together intensively.
The hitters can reliably call and hit any of several play-sets. (By
"play-set", I mean a set that can be used as part of a combination.
Examples are right-side hitter looping around for a front 32, a front
1, or (for lefties) a front slide, or coming in for a back 1; middle
blocker hitting a pump-fake 2, a 31 shoot, or a quick slide; left-side
hitter coming in for a 32, etc.) The hitters have also practiced
combining the play-sets into full-fledged multiple-hitter
combinations, and has developed several standard combinations with
which they feel comfortable. When attacking, the hitters call out the
sets that they what, and the setter chooses one of them. To guarantee
that the calls are complementary, hitters are assigned different
priorities based on their hitting prowess, with the primary hitter
calling first, etc.
This is the most advanced system, requiring a high degree of skill
from the hitters and the setter, and much practice and coordination.
Its power comes from its flexibility; hitters can look for local
weaknesses and call for the sets that allow them to be exploited.
Most of this comes from women's volleyball. The men's game is
different, because men are so damn strong that they can hit with
terminal velocity even when the sets are imperfect or way far off the
net, so the sets don't have to be quite as perfect and complex offenses
to beat the block are not nearly as necessary as in the women's game.
(This may change, though, as the Soviet Wall seems to have gone back
>1) hitters call their sets; setter realizes that the middle is a
>6'8" mutant, and can whip a 1 set (just above the net in the middle)
>and it's a guaranteed kill - does the setter have the right to tell
>the hitter to run a 1? I mean, it's *the hitter's* ball, but the
>setter is supposed to run the show, right?
Depends on the level of play. If your MB can crush 1's reliably and
you don't feed him until he chokes, then something's seriously wrong
with your team offense. If *he* isn't calling for 1's every time,
then something is seriously wrong with *him*.
>2) Player puts both hands behind his back - top hand says 2, bottom
>hand says 4. What am I supposed to do with this?
I dunno -- first hit is a 2 in the middle, thereafter 4's outside?
*Ask* your hitter what he means! If you're the setter, make sure
everybody is speaking *your* language.
>3) How can setter tell players to run a 1/2 without making it obvious
>to the other team?
If you're doing RANDOM AUDIBLES, you can't. If you're running SIMPLE
PLAYS or using a PLAYBOOK, make up a name or a signal for this play,
and just call it. If your hitters are making COMPLEMENTARY AUDIBLES,
then *they* should figure out the coordination between themselves and
inform the setter of the result.
The bottom line is that team offense isn't something that can be
worked out on the floor ("over the board", in chess terminology). You
have to have it figured out *before* the match or tournament begins.
That's what practices are for.
>J - This is a back-1, but hit by the middle hitter - he goes up
> into a basketball-type jump, with his body basically curving
> around the setter (looks like a 1 to the opposite middle
> blocker), but the ball goes behind the setter; hitter twists
> in mid-air, and hits the ball
Also called a "quick slide", since it's a quick set using the slide
approach. The slide, or "basketball-type jump", is similar to the
lay-up approach, i.e. a running jump off of one foot. Think of
Michael with the ball on the left side of the court about 5' from the
baseline, closely defended by Rodman. Michael fakes to the baseline,
Rodman bites, Michael spins to his left and finds empty key ahead of
him, but Laimbeer steps up from the low post to cut off Michael's
direct route to the basket. Not to be denied, Michael takes two big
strides parallel to the baseline, takes the ball in his right hand,
springs off of his left foot at the edge of the key, and sails through
the air across the key, still on a path parallel to the baseline. As
he flashes past the undefended basket, Michael twists slightly and
swings his right arm (and the ball) over his head and across his body,
slamming the ball home for two. Several hours later, Michael gently
lands on the other edge of the key, still about 5' from the baseline.
That's the back slide approach and swing. Foul on Laimbeer.
(BTW, the slide is common in the women's game, but rather infrequent
in the men's game. Men are so strong that they don't need the finesse
of the slide to hit effectively.)