2014 World Championships Technical Review – Part 1

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The following article originally appeared in the German ‘Volleyball Magazin‘ in November 2014, written by Michael Mattes, with help from Jan Kahlenbach. 

A note on the translation.  I speak German well, but nowhere near translator level.  Any stilted expression is solely the result of my poor translation and should not be accredited to the author.

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We can’t say it often enough: The German men have won a World Championships bronze medal. Hand on heart: Would you have believed it? That makes it an even greater pleasure to write this tournament analysis. The title of the last European Championships analysis (‘Russland top, Polen Flop’) was deliberately reversed and the mention of our team added. Through the title alone, one can see how close the teams the top teams are to each other.

Overall on the World Championships

The ‘Monster Format’ of the FIVB was popular for the majority, even if some experts thought the load was too great. For the German team it was no disadvantage, partly because they never had to change location. The task of the analysts was to go through the data of 103 matches. Because that is not possible is such a short time, the first round matches including teams that did not progress in the tournament were excluded. Our reflections extend to the top 16 teams. Therefore the analysis is of the remaining 67 matches. That is enough to filter our themes and to illuminate tendencies.

The Transition Game: The Key to Success

It is years since the Rally Point Scoring (RPS) system was introduced, but in principle nothing has changed. Through K1 (Komplex 1, Sideout Phase) one can maintain the point difference with the opponent. During the World Championships, this was successful 67.7% of the time. To separate oneself from the opponent is only possible through K2 (Komplex 2, Breakpoint Phase), that is through successfully serving and with it a winning a break point.

For successful K2, a team must master the ‘Transition Game’, meaning the transition from block / defence to counter attack. In extended K1 (when the first sideout attempt is unsuccessful and a second is required), the transition game is equally important. That is, in any longer rally. That longer rallies are becoming more prevalent in men’s volleyball, transition is becoming more important. All the teams with good values in transition were near the top of the rankings – as long as they didn’t show great weaknesses in other areas. A team with poor serving or sideout values, has few opportunities in transition and therefore poor chances of success. In that sense serve, reception and sideout attack are duties. Transition – comprising elements of block, defence, transition setting and counter attack – is becoming freestyle.

Team By Team

The teams will be presented here just as in the medal presentation. The best team, Poland, the world champion, comes last, and the beginning is with 16th.

China – About a third of the Asian´s games is there nothing concrete to say. The Chinese qualified from the first round, but were then knocked out. They were convincing in their service aces (ranked 5th), as they were in total errors (ranked 4th). What was notable was that this team was the only team in World Championships that did not work with online scouting.

Australia – In comparison with the World League Finals in August in Florence, Australia began with a different lineup. Due to illness and injury coach Uriarte was forced to experiment with his reception patterns. Accordingly, the reception efficiency was by far the worst of all teams in the second round.

Italy – The Squadra Azzurra is in upheaval for the 2016 Olympics. After the injury to Ivan Zaytsev, the team showed how dependent it was on him. The serve – previously the showpiece of the Italians – was weak (second last in the values), the reception was unstable (13th) and as a result the sideout efficiency was only average (10th). In the transition game, the Azzurri lost on average almost 10 points per match against the best teams.

Bulgaria – Bulgaria is currently unsettled. Just two months before the World Championships coach Camillo Placi resigned. His successor Plamen Konstantinov made decisions that seemed to have an adverse effect. The replacement of Georgi Bratoev with Zhekov at the setter position revealed obvious coordination problems. In the last first round match, middle blocker Yosifov was injured, but Konstantinov had failed to include a third middle blocker (Gotsev) in the team. The result was a 2:3 loss after a 2:0 lead. Against an unleashed German team the Bulgarians had no chance, the team seemed mentally broken. Statistically interesting are the bad attack percentage and the last place in the serving efficiency rankings as a result of too many errors.



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