I wrote, a long time ago now, about seeing Earvin N’Gapeth playing in person and how the ‘crazy’ things he did were in fact the obvious, if slighly less conventional, solution to the problem the game presented. Of course, nothing has changed much in the intervening years. He still does the same things, except that they have become mainstream and conventional. At least in men’s volleyball. Here are a couple more obvious plays from the recent VNL.
In this clip, Earvin receives in P1. The reception is close to the sideline and there is no chance that he can play his normal ball behind the setter. The obvious solution is to play in the front of the setter, and seeing as his approach is in a straight line, why not make it first tempo. The setter can see him the whole way, and he probably adds a call. And voila! (pun intended) point for France. Not that despite the fact that they have never practiced or prepared for this play, Brazil manages a double block on it.
This clip is not so much an ‘obvious’ solution as a great heads up play. Everyone expects the ball to be given as a free ball but by loitering around the middle of the court, he actually gives himself the greatest number of possibilities (very reminiscent of this play). Instead of the expected free ball to position 2 that is conventional in that moment, with a jump he can see more of the court and open up a larger area to play into. He chooses to go deep to position 1 and so instead of defending a free ball (and 4 attacking options), France has to defend just a single option in position 4. They end up losing the point because, well, it’s Brazil, but it is still a great play.
Tagged Earvin N’Gapeth
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