While some things in volleyball go out of fashion and come back again, like the second contact pipe, other things change and never go back, like the overall speed of the game in serve, attack and transition. Another area is the area of tactics, especially tactics in serve.
During the 2002 World Championships the standing float serve was not common, but was not unusual. The general aggression of the serve was less than we are accustomed to. It was clearly a different time. What makes the different role of the serve especially clear is with one of the Yugoslavian players. As can be seen below, his normal jump float serve is not particularly penetrating or dangerous, but at least makes the receivers move backwards a little bit.
However, when the match really hung in the balance at 1 set all and 22-23, the tactical solution changed. Instead of making the receivers work a tiny bit, the best option was to serve the easiest possible serve at exactly the middle of the court.
But, and this is the real kicker and an indication of how much volleyball has really changed, that serve won two points in a row and turned the set in favour of Yugoslavia. They eventually lost the set, and the match undoing all that good work. Overall, this rotation, and server, was the second best scoring rotation for Yugoslavia. This was not an isolated incident. Other Yugoslavian servers who had jump and float variations chose the less risky option at important moments. It is very difficult to think of a team that would choose the same option now, and even more difficult to imagine it being successful.
Volleyball has changed.
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