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.
Due to personnel problems Cuneo have been using a lineup with one setter, two receivers (who played in the standard manner), one middle (who plays in the standard manner) and two opposites, as seen below.
Grbic is the setter, N’Gapeth and Wijsmanns the receivers, Kohut the middle blocker, Sokolov is nominally the other middle blocker and Antonov is nominally the opposite. Antonov plays as the opposite across the front row and with the setter in position 4. Sokolov, who is their best opposite, plays middle across the front row and as the opposite with the setter in position 3 and 2.
P1 – SETTER IN POSITION 1
Sokolov in position 3 plays as a middle. In the alternative version, a middle is subsituted for Antonov and Sokolov spikes from position 4.
P6 – SETTER IN POSITION 6
Standard, with Sokolov playing as a middle blocker. In the alternative version, where a middle is subsituted for Antonov, Sokolov spikes from position 2.
P5 – SETTER IN POSITION 5
Completely standard. Sokolov takes a break… most of the time (see video below).
P4 – SETTER IN POSITION 4
Sokolov reenters for the serve, and the libero comes in for Antonov. When the two are on the court at the same time (ie during the serve), Sokolov plays in position 1.
P3 – SETTER IN POSITION 3
As P4, with Sokolov as opposite and the libero on for Antonov.
P2 – SETTER IN POSITION 2
Another standard rotation. Antonov playing as opposite and Sokolov in the frontrow as middle blocker.
I don’t think this lineup will become a new paradigm, but it is interesting to see another situation where a team has chosen to play a player ‘out of position’ in order to have the best six players on the court rather than the players who best fit into the individual ‘slots’. Truly creating a system to fit the players.
However, when you do something new sometimes wires get crossed. In this particular case, sometimes you end up with seven players on the court. And they still couldn’t get the ball over the net…
Part 1 on Macerata