DOC VOLLEYBALL: Out-serving the Competition
AJ Pareja on Mar 20, 2018 11:20 PM
DLSU's excellent service game has enabled the Lady Spikers to rise to the top of the standings.In what turned out to be another too-close-to-call five-set thriller between the DLSU Lady Spikers and FEU Tamaraws, both teams duked it out to claim the top spot, which was crucial in cementing a good position for the Final Four moving forward.
Being the top two teams in the serving department, both DLSU and FEU relied heavily on their service prowess to edge out each other. On one hand, the Lady Spikers needed to challenge the passers of FEU as the latter’s bread and butter attack is the combination x-play while FEU needed to ensure that they're serving tough enough to prevent Queen Spiker Majoy Baron from winding up for the quick attack, which is one of the defending champion’s strongest suit. Both team’s serving performance was perhaps the best determining factor in the scoring trend for each set. Just by looking at the serve performance, the outcome of the game could be relatively easy to predict.
Set 1: DLSU 25 - FEU 17
DLSU took command of the first set coming off strong with aggressive services from Des Cheng early on. Her low and flat jump floaters ensured that FEU was not able to execute the combination play early on.
The Lady Spikers took full command of the set when Queen Spiker Majoy Baron ran a nine consecutive serving stint with four disrupting FEU’s attack pattern. DLSU had a 96% serving efficiency with only 1 error out of 24 attempts.
On the other hand, FEU started slow with their serving game gaining ground only with services from Jerrili Malabanan and Chin Basas midway. FEU had a respectable 86% efficiency with 3 errors out of 17 attempts.
Set 2: FEU 25 - DLSU 21
The second set was too close to call as both teams were neck and neck in tying the set as well as several lead changes. The trend of the set was consistent with their serving pattern as both DLSU and FEU tallied a remarkable serving efficiency of 90% and 88%, respectively.
What FEU did better however was they had a higher percentage of excellent serves at 46% compared to DLSU’s 39%. This goes to show that despite the almost similar efficiency, FEU had better quality or excellent serves that either resulted to aces or disruption of DLSU’s attack pattern.
Set 3: FEU 25 - DLSU 16
In the third set, DLSU came out strong with the usual suspect Baron forcing FEU to do broken plays with her services. It was not until Basas made a series of aggressive serves midway where FEU started to take a commanding lead.
Despite a couple of service errors early on, the Lady Tamaraws ensured consistent tough serving towards the end with a couple of aces in between. FEU tallied an 88% serving efficiency with a whopping 50% excellent serves out of 24 attempts whereas DLSU had an efficiency of 82% with an unusal 35% excellent serves out of a relatively lower 17 attempts. In line with that, FEU had a total of two service aces while DLSU had none.
Set 4: DLSU 25 - FEU 20
The fourth set was a reflection of the second set, but in the favor DLSU. Both teams once again had commendable serving efficiency with DLSU at 88% and with FEU at 90%.
The difference however was once again with the quality of serves. The Lady Spikers had a solid 12 excellent serves out of 24 attempts (50%) while the Lady Tamaraws showed less aggressive serving at eight excellent serves out of 21 attempts (38%). It has to be noted as well that FEU’s excellent services were during the early parts of the fourth set when they were neck and neck with DLSU.
Set 5: DLSU 15 - FEU 5
Though it seemed to be a tight match by the fifth set started, DLSU came out strong with Mich Cobb at the service line to quell FEU’s hopes of exacting their revenge. Though both teams were immaculate with their efficiency, the Lady Spikers were able to limit the Lady Tamaraws to just five service attempts throughout the set. In addition, DLSU had 11 excellent services out of 15 attempts with much credit to Cobb and Baron splitting almost all the services all throughout.
With three of the best serving teams (DLSU, FEU, ADMU) currently on the upper half of the league, the serve is a reliable indicator of how good a team is performing. Unlike any other aspect of the sport, the serve is the only skill where the outcome is determined by the player alone.
The goal of the serve can be simplified into two simple keys. The serve aims to either get quick points through aces or get the opposing team out of system.
In addition, especially in top level of play where teams do intensive scouting, teams set up reception patterns based on the strongest servers of their opponents.
In the league right now, two types of serves predominate which are the standing float and jump float. Regardless if jumping or standing, the goal of the serve and more importantly, the mechanics by which a good serve is achieved remains the same.
A good floater starts with the point of contact. To ensure that the flight of the ball will be flat, the contact should be right smack at the middle of the ball. Since the ball utilized in the league (dimpled Mikasa) is designed to float and fall fast, minimizing the height of the serve to around 2 feet above the tape ensures that the physics of the ball is being used to the advantage. A low and flat serve also diminishes the time for the opposing passer to track the ball, shuffle step to location, and establish a platform.
Lastly, the location of the target is equally important as serving into either zone 5 or zone 1 ensures that either the middles mess up their approach or the setter gets blind sided in setting up the play.
Perhaps the best example of good serving throughout the game is from Majoy Baron who had a good share of consecutive excellent services and aces. Baron goes up for a jump float to get a decent initial height and contacts the ball right at the center for a flat trajectory. With the ball just within a foot above the net, her services limited the time for FEU’s passers to establish a solid passing form in a good number of attempt.
In addition, she was able to target zone 5 consistently ensuring that FEU’s middles not being able to approach consistently.