I have done quite a few posts now reviewing things that happen in games and most picking out why they are bad or misunderstood (What Just Happened Part 1-8) and also why they are great (Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3).
Sometimes everyone on the court makes a great play at the same time and it ends up looking mundane to the casual observer. In reality it is everything but mundane. It is the highest level of the game. This is one of those plays.
To set the scene, it is the final match of the Olympic Preliminary round. Brazil is playing against France. It is a big match to decide final placings in the round and influence quarter final matchups. It has been a cracking game. The players have been on the court for 2 hours and 51 minutes. The score is 17-16 for France. Match point. The Brazilian rotation is P1, the setter is in position 1. It is the most dangerous rotation to sideout for Brazil. France have a few different tactical options depending on where they think the main danger lies. They opt for a short serve to the receiver in position 1. The goal is to take him out of the attack and they will focus their block on the middle blocker and position 4 attacker.
The serve is perfectly executed. The receiver ends up on the ground. The block moves across perfectly to take advantage of the created opportunity. The setter knows what France is trying to do, knows his spiker is on the ground, but still trusts that he will find a way. He does and scores against a desperately late block. Brazil also win the next point, and very shortly afterwards the match, proving that a smart play is worth more than its face value.
It all looks mundane, but it is not. It is what volleyball looks like when everybody on both teams is on the same page.
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