Olympic Analysis – Reception v Sideout

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There is a lot of discussion about reception quality being a key to sideout effectiveness. ‘Volleyball is serve and pass’ is a refrain that is commonly heard. Others say that reception is not important, sideout is important. So what is it? I looked at the preliminary round of the Olympic tournament, including only matches between the top 10 teams. The plot below is reception (measured by expected SO%) against sideout (measured by modified SO%, ie excluding service errors).

The answer is… drumroll please… there is no relationship between reception and sideout*.

If you take out the outlier, which is incidently Poland, the relationship is virtually a horizontal line.

My take… volleyball is not serve / pass. Volleyball is attack.

*…in men’s international volleyball, in a fairly small sample size.

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