How much difference does player height make in Volleyball?

#1

StrangeVol

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#1
Seems intuitive that it does, right? If that's true, do our Lady Vols have enough height? It seemed we were often getting killed by taller players but I wondered if the perceived advantage held by taller teams was real? Was height the real reason we didn't fare so well in the tournament against Washington State, for instance. After spending a few hours doing some digging, I think it might be.

Without the details, I thought I could possibly obtain a rough measure of the advantage of height by looking at this year's Elite Eight teams in comparison to the Lady Vols. Here's what I think I learned.

First, there are some really tall women volleyball players out there. I was surprised at the number of players that were 6'4" or taller, even as tall as 6'8". Wow!

Second, all 8 of the Elite Eight teams had an average player height (excluding defenders, Libero, and setters) of around 6' 2.25." The Lady Vols we a bit shorter at 6' 1.25." Why did I exclude the setters, defenders, and Libero from my calculations you ask? Because I wanted to focus on hitters and blockers, the girls that seemed to do us the most damage. So does an inch in average player height really make a difference? Well...maybe. ;)

Next, I thought "do having really tall girls make a bigger difference?" In an attempt to find out I decided to look at two statistics. The number of players on each team that are 6'3" or taller and also the average height of each team's three tallest players. What was revealed is that of the Elite Eight teams, they averaged having 4.5 players equal to or taller than 6'3" and their three tallest players averaged 6' 3.25." Our LdayVols were at 2 players 6'3" or taller averaging 6'3" in height. So not a lot of difference you say? Well, yes on one hand, but if you look at the number of players other teams have that are 6'3" or taller, 4.5, I think the real difference begins to come to light. Having more tall players is a definite advantage.

But doesn't intuition tell us that? Yep, it likely does. But what happens when these Elite Eight teams play each other? Do the teams with the greatest number of players 6'3 and over always win?

Well, let's see. The tallest team in my analysis was Wisconsin which had an average height of 6' 2.5", a "Big 3" height (height of their three tallest players) of 6' 5.25" and had 5 players 6'3" or taller, was defeated by Illinois that averaged 6' 2", a "Big 3" of 6' 3", and also had 5 players 6' 3" or taller. So does this mean that superior height doesn't always win? Yep, that seems to be what it means, but maybe not.

Consider this, The second, third, and fourth tallest teams all won their matches against three of the four shortest teams in the Elite Eight. Stanford, the second tallest team beat Penn State the fifth tallest team, BYU, the third tallest team swept Texas the next to shortest team, and Nebraska the fourth tallest team swept Oregon the shortest team.

So what are we to make of this? Well, here's what I think I can say based on this very very limited and somewhat arbitrary research:

To win, you need tall girls and lots of them! You won't always win, but you'll win most of the time!

So (speaking in my best Donald Trump voice), Coach Rackham, if you're listening, you need to go out and get us some taller players. The good news is we can keep Lily even if she is just 5'11" :)
 
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#2

FlyFishnVol

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#2
I played volleyball for years, and how tall a player is + the ability to jump 30 to 40 inch is crucial in closing angles, Volleyball is a angles game and bending the ball from the back court is difficult, that is why it is all at the net. Is there a big difference in cutting off angles between 6'2" and 6'4'? it all lies in the vertical jump and timing of the set. I am going to say an team of 6'2" players with skills, can beat anyone. The setter is the QB........remember that. Getting the other team to shift and catch them out of balance......well I've seen 6'0 players spike the ball on their shoelaces.
 
#4

volfanIND

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#4
Speed and quickness at the net is missing here. Height is one thing, but if you are slow to react, jump too soon, jump too late, it doesn't matter. I think having height is like an insurance policy, your counting on that if the speed isn't right, your hoping the arm length will cover you.
 
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#8
A 5'10" player with a terrific vertical leap and excellent timing will outperform a 6'3" okay leaper with average timing any day of the week.
Most slams happen an inch over the net anyway, so height isn't as important as Leaping-timing-hitting/blocking mechanics.

The reason ,, most hits are just above the net because if you hit it from a higher elevation, you have a tendency to follow-through into the top of the net.
 
#9

StrangeVol

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#9
A 5'10" player with a terrific vertical leap and excellent timing will outperform a 6'3" okay leaper with average timing any day of the week.
That's probably true...but, all other things being relatively equal will the 5' 10" player out perform an equally talented 6' 3" player? I very much doubt it.

Look, I am a huge fan of our 5' 11" Lily Felts. She is super but I have seen her at times be overwhelmed at the net by taller players. Due to the height difference, she got stuffed several times against Washington State. She was still able to be effective hitting from the back line because she could see the gaps, pick the best angle of attack and avoid the tall blockers.

A case of "Where there's a will there's a way" I guess, but I imagine you see my point.
 
#10

StrangeVol

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#10
Most slams happen an inch over the net anyway, so height isn't as important as Leaping-timing-hitting/blocking mechanics.

The reason ,, most hits are just above the net because if you hit it from a higher elevation, you have a tendency to follow-through into the top of the net.
Coach I'm going to disagree with you. Most sets are two feet or so behind the net to avoid striking the net on the follow through. Taller hitters like higher sets so they can get a better down angle and hopefully get the ball down sharply for a kill. Setting/hitting lower tends to lead to shots that go long or are more easily blocked because verticle clearance above the net is taken out of play for the hitter's use which means the blocker has to cover a considerably smaller area.
 
#11
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Coach I'm going to disagree with you. Most sets are two feet or so behind the net to avoid striking the net on the follow through. Taller hitters like higher sets so they can get a better down angle and hopefully get the ball down sharply for a kill. Setting/hitting lower tends to lead to shots that go long or are more easily blocked because verticle clearance above the net is taken out of play for the hitter's use which means the blocker has to cover a considerably smaller area.
If the players jump is vertical, if the jump forward at all, they're in the net.
But yes, at this level this is less of a factor.
 
#12

FlyFishnVol

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#12
Good points all...perhaps I should have said "all other things being equal" does height make a difference? So with that caveat what do you say?
You don't get to pick what the replies might be on these blogs :) its who we are, you'll get more than you asked for regardless of how you phrased the question.............Go Volnation!
 
#13

sccshortstop

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#13
Blockers jump is strictly vertical near the net. Very seldom will you see a blocker step under the net but their being at the net over the net will be called more than in the net. If you watch the hitters they will get a running start normally at an angle to get the highest point to go over or by the blockers. Going under the net is not an infraction and seldom does a hitter hit the net with the body and even then its the elbow. If anyone gets a chance to watch the finals this weekend you will see what I am saying. These will be 4 evenly matched teams and I am not sure who will win it all but until someone beats Stanford it is theirs to lose. JMHO as always!
 
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#14

StrangeVol

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#14
Blockers jump is strictly vertical near the net. Very seldom will you see a blocker step under the net but their being at the net over the net will be called more than in the net. If you watch the hitters they will get a running start to get the highest point to go over or by the blockers. Going under the net is not an infraction and seldom does a hitter hit the net with the body. If anyone gets a chance to watch the finals this weekend you will see what I am saying. These will be 4 evenly matched teams and I am not sure who will win it all but until someone beats Stanford it is theirs to lose. JMHO as always!

Good points and for my money I like BYU vs Stanford in the finals. It will be very interesting in the semis.
 
#16

IPleadInsanity

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#16
Volley ball is about 2 things, hitting the ball straight down and blocking. The rest is just fluff. This is why girls 6'2" and above with club experience commit during their freshman year in high school, commit not sign. Can't sign till Nov. of junior year but height is a limited commodity. Coaches hunt the bigs very early because without them you can't win. It's a very uncomplicated game.
 
#18

StrangeVol

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#18
Volley ball is about 2 things, hitting the ball straight down and blocking. The rest is just fluff. This is why girls 6'2" and above with club experience commit during their freshman year in high school, commit not sign. Can't sign till Nov. of junior year but height is a limited commodity. Coaches hunt the bigs very early because without them you can't win. It's a very uncomplicated game.
After thinking about it, I'm gonna argue that the statement I highlighted above is not really true. Consider if it weren't for high skilled setters all those spectacular kills likely wouldn't happen. Setting is an art. First, you have to know where the pass forward is going, check where the defenders are, and then set the ball to give the hitter the best angle to attack. Those defenders are also pretty important too. If it weren't for the girls that happily throw themselves all over the floor to dig hard-hit kill shots and simultaneously pass it forward, but not too far forward, the setter couldn't do her job and...well we all know the rest.

While I love the tall girls at the net too, just remember that while they may get most of the limelight others on the court are almost and some would say just as important. :)
 
#19

sccshortstop

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#19
After thinking about it, I'm gonna argue that the statement I highlighted above is not really true. Consider if it weren't for high skilled setters all those spectacular kills likely wouldn't happen. Setting is an art. First, you have to know where the pass forward is going, check where the defenders are, and then set the ball to give the hitter the best angle to attack. Those defenders are also pretty important too. If it weren't for the girls that happily throw themselves all over the floor to dig hard-hit kill shots and simultaneously pass it forward, but not too far forward, the setter couldn't do her job and...well we all know the rest.

While I love the tall girls at the net too, just remember that while they may get most of the limelight others on the court are almost and some would say just as important. :)
SV you and I seem to agree most all the time. I had started to post something similar but I did not ans since you did I will as well. If not for the most skilled position on the floor the bigs are just that other than as blockers. The setter is the key to the offense and the libereo (sp?) is the key to the defense. I had went back to our LVS heyday in volleyball when we had Kelsey Robinson an AA who transferred to Nebraska her senior year . She was 6 foot or so and wore people out. Once she left Nebraska she played profession VB all over the world was on the Olympic teams as well. She is now a renowned setter. Who would have thunk it????
 
#22

sccshortstop

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#22
After watching the semis last night is another testament for the athletic height athletes. a little surprised Stanford handled BYU as easily as they did because they were a pretty tall athletic team as well. I think they will handle Nebraska but not as easily as they did BYU.
As a side note I had previously noted that Texas had a freshman Hitter and blocker who was a graduate of Brentwood who was nationally ranked. The freshman setter for Nebraska is from Webb School in Kville and the number 1 ranked setter in the country. Would be nice for CER to pick up a few of those type players for the LVs. I am sure she will put more effort than what has been done in the past. JMHO as always!
 
#23

IPleadInsanity

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#23
After watching the semis last night is another testament for the athletic height athletes. a little surprised Stanford handled BYU as easily as they did because they were a pretty tall athletic team as well. I think they will handle Nebraska but not as easily as they did BYU.
As a side note I had previously noted that Texas had a freshman Hitter and blocker who was a graduate of Brentwood who was nationally ranked. The freshman setter for Nebraska is from Webb School in Kville and the number 1 ranked setter in the country. Would be nice for CER to pick up a few of those type players for the LVs. I am sure she will put more effort than what has been done in the past. JMHO as always!
I agree and was surprised how easily Stanford won. A player for Heritage has committed to LV and recently a player from Catholic committed but when the big 4 programs call you must answer.
 
#24

IPleadInsanity

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#24
After thinking about it, I'm gonna argue that the statement I highlighted above is not really true. Consider if it weren't for high skilled setters all those spectacular kills likely wouldn't happen. Setting is an art. First, you have to know where the pass forward is going, check where the defenders are, and then set the ball to give the hitter the best angle to attack. Those defenders are also pretty important too. If it weren't for the girls that happily throw themselves all over the floor to dig hard-hit kill shots and simultaneously pass it forward, but not too far forward, the setter couldn't do her job and...well we all know the rest.

While I love the tall girls at the net too, just remember that while they may get most of the limelight others on the court are almost and some would say just as important. :)
No doubt the other players are important and those positions require a lot of skill. There are literally thousands of talented girls to fill those positions because of dedication and hard work. Fact still remains most of those girls can’t block or hit it straight down consitantly. You can coach speed, quickness, hand-eye but you can’t coach height!
 
#25

StrangeVol

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#25
I was shocked by how easily Stanford disposed of BYU. I kinda thought BYU might win it all this year. Shows what I know. Looks like Stanford will be the champion yet again. :( They pretty much own the Olympic sports it seems always at or very near the top of the standings. they will be a handful against the Lady Vols in basketball this coming Tuesday. Our girls best bring their A+ game, IMO.

I wonder what the story is with the freshman girl from Webb who was playing for Nebraska that shortstop mentioned? I know under the old coach we had a mixed to bad reputation so maybe the negatives were too great for CER to overcome based on plans and potential. We sure could have used her this year and into the future. Our setters were decent, but she's all-world it seems. Maybe next time. :)
 

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