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Texas vs. Wisconsin Semi-Final

Updated: Jan 14




If you were at all like me on Thursday night watching the Texas and Wisconsin volleyball semi-final, then you were just a little bummed. I guess if you are a Wisconsin fan you were a lot bummed. If you were a Texas fan then maybe you were stoked! For me and the rest of the volleyball fans out there that just want to see exciting matches in the Final Four, then you were bummed at what you saw in the last two sets of that match.


What you might have noticed is that Wisconsin passed very poorly in the last two sets. Texas served very aggressively and it certainly had an impact on the Wisconsin passers. Serve recieve is an extremely mental skill. Don't believe me? Ask literally any volleyball coach and they will tell you that. It was certainly not the first time the Wisconsin passers had seen aggressive servers all season. I want to get into some statistics on all of this and then get into why I think it is important and why volleyball atheltes young and old should watch that match and understand what was happening.


Texas

In the match that had 11 aces and 7 errors. They were certainly being aggerssive and taking some risks from the service line. They were only aced 4 times.


Wisconsin

In the match they had 4 aces and 11 serving errors. They were also aced 11 times.


After quickly looking at the stats, I wondered how often this had happened throughout the rest of the season. My guess, with two championship teams, that this was not fairly normal. I think I was right.


Wisconsin had double digit serve errors(SE) in matches a total of 11 times. With their biggest SE match being against Marquette where they had 18 in total. But this was only their 2nd match with double digit SE in the last 13 matches. On the flip side of that, Wisconsin only had double digit aces in 3 matches on the season.


Texas had 11 aces in this match, but how normal was that for them? Texas only had double digit aces in 2 other matches on the season. One being a 4 set win against Minnesota and a 4 set loss against Washington State.


Wisconsin had made a lot of SE throughout the season, but what abou their serve recieve(SR)? Sometimes teams will take the risk serving if they are a better passing team. This was only their 2nd match all season with double digit SR errors. The only other time that happend to them this season was a 5 set win against Tennessee. They had 12 SR errors. Typically a very good passing team.


On paper there wouldn't be any indication that Texas was going to serve Wisconsin off the floor (which they kind of did). If you called that before the match, let me know.




I don't want to speculate on what happened because I can't even imagine I would know. As a former college coach, perspective is important. On the outside looking in it might be easy to say things like they got "served off the floor" or "they are breaking down mentally" or even that "Texas was just serving too aggresive for their passers to handle". All or some of that might be true, but without being on that team or without being in those huddles during the match it's really hard to tell. I remember asking a coaching buddy of mine after we beat them what he thought we were doing in order to beat them or what our strategy was. He told me what HE saw and thought we were doing. It's entirely possible that was happening, I'm not going to lie, but whatever he said wasn't at all what we were trying to do or what we schemed to do.


As a coach you never want to see a semi-final like that. You don't want to watch the last two sets be 25-13 and 25-16. Certainly that's not what volleyball should look like when you have two of the best teams in the country playing eachother for a spot in the National Championship.


So why is this all important?


Well, I think it's good for athletes and parents to recognize when you flat out just get beat. When you flat out don't play your best and the other team takes advantage of that situation. Did Wisconsin play their best? I doubt that very much. Does it matter? Not at all. Because you don't get second chances in this sport. You have to play your best all the time. If you don't, rest assured that there will be athletes on the other side of the net that take advantage of you NOT being at your best.


It's also important, I think, to see athletes at the top level of our sport fail. I mean that. We can sometimes have these crazy expectations for ourselves or for our own athletes. It's humbling in a lot of ways to look at that semifinal match and go, yeah I guess my athletes aren't perfect all the time either. If fully scholarshiped athletes at the pinnacle of D1 volleyball are missing serves at the start of a match or after you work your way back from 3 points down, then when the 14 year old does the same thing it should create some perspective.


It's a tough sport. A little resilience never hurt anyone.








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