Last week’s Champions League Playoff 6 was notable for a couple of reasons. Polish club Kedzierzyn Kozle beat last season’s Final Four performers Izmir to reach the last stage for the first time in nearly ten years. Zenit Kazan celebrated the knocking out of perennial finallists Trento by crushing fellow Russians Dynamo Moscow. And Italian powers Macerata and Cuneo faced off against each other. The Italian match up was the closest, with Cuneo reaching their first ever Final Four in the golden set, but it was also interesting as neither team played with a ‘traditional’ lineup.
Since Doug Beal and the USA men’s team pioneered the two receiver system in the early 1980’s volleyball (particularly men’s volleyball) has become more and more specialised. So specialised in fact that virtually every men’s team in the world plays exactly the same way; one setter, one opposite, two receivers (one better at receiving, one better at spiking), two middle blockers and one libero (who always comes into the game for the middle blockers. But ever so slowly there have been some small variations creeping into the this homogenised game. Angelo Lorenzetti used three receivers and no opposites while winning the Italian championship with Piacenza in 2009. Vladimir Alekno played players out of ‘position’ to win the 2012 Olympics. And now Macerata and Cuneo faced off in a big match playing two completely different types of lineups.
Macerata are using a variation of the the lineup Piacenza used in 2009, in that they are playing with three receivers. The one difference is while Piacenza were forced by circumstances into their version, Macerata intended to play with this system from the beginning of the season, albeit with slightly different personnel. The lineup as they played against Cuneo is shown here.
Travica is the setter. Stankovic and Podrascanin are middles. Parodi and Kooy are nominally the receivers. Zaytsev is nominally the opposite. Basically where this lineup differs from the ‘standard’ is that Zaytsev, while playing opposite the setter, both spikes from the backrow and takes on a major passing role, while Kooy, while playing in a receivers ‘slot’ plays almost solely as a spiker. We can see how it works, rotation by rotation.
P1 – SETTER IN POSITION 1
P1 is fairly obvious. Zaytsev drops back to receive, either in the standard three receiver formation without Kooy, or with Kooy in the four receiver version.
P6 – SETTER IN POSITION 6
Not much to be done here. Standard formation.
P5 – SETTER IN POSITION 5
Zaytsev lines up as though he will not receive but moves back into the receiving position as the server makes his toss. Kooy could also step out completely to make it a three receiver formation.
P4 – SETTER IN POSITION 4
Zaytsev lines up as though he will not receive but moves into the receiving position as the server makes his toss. Kooy could also step out completely to make it a three receiver formation. Zaytsev can and will easily recieve and spike from the backrow.
P3 – SETTER IN POSITION 3
Zaytsev recieves in position 1 and spikes from position 1. Kooy stands completely our of the reception and prepares to spike the pipe.
P2 – SETTER IN POSITION 2
Zaytsev is forced by the rotational order to receiver in position and therefore cannot spike in position 1. Kooy stays out of the reception and plays the ‘opposite’ role in this rotation.
So there it is. A new paradigm? Or maybe the Cuneo version is the new paradigm. Or maybe the new paradigm is that there is no paradigm.
Cuneo in Part 2