I have seen a lot of good volleyball this season, as well as plenty of bad volleyball. The recent Champions League match between Trento and Perugia provided many examples of the former. One of the joys of (my) life is watching players like Alessandro Michieletto and Matej Kaziyski solve game problems in real time.
So the question for today is what is the key play in this rally?
Obviously the block cover that keeps the ball alive is pretty important. As is the recovery from outside the court. But the simple moment that switches the advantage in the rally from Perugia to Trento is the simple jump that Michieletto makes before putting over what could have been a free ball.
That little jump changes the entire dynamics of the rally. It changes the angle and speed of the ball enough so that the opposing middle, even though he was ready for it, cannot completely control the first contact.
The imprecise first contact leads to a predictable set that gives the middle blocker and the defender time to get to good positions to make a play.
And then, Kaziyski, instead of trying to run out to the ‘optimal’ attack position and almost certainly being late, stays in a ‘good’ position. Michieletto then sets to where the spiker is, instead of where he ‘should’ be and Kaziyski is able to have a full approach and attack.
Kaziyski gets the point in the end, but the point opportunity is created by the Michieletto’s ‘jump’.
In volleyball great outcomes arise from almost imperceptible inputs.