Rapids Volleyball

Wainuiomata Rapids Volleyball Inc.

Archive for the ‘Feature Stories’ Category

Possible Delays For Cobham Park

Posted by Rapids Volleyball on Monday, June 23, 2008

Cobham Park Sports CentreThe Dominion Post reported a story on the 17th of June about the possible delays to the 12-court sports centre planned for Cobham Park which is championed by Wellington Mayor Kerry Predergast.

There is a meeting on the morning of Friday 27 June (9:15am) at the Old Town Hall. The Council will be revisiting the planning of Kilbirnie’s Cobham Park Sport Centre. Councillor Andy Foster opposes the idea of such a sports venue, sighting that it’s a costly venture. Foster was reported as saying to the Dominion Post, “We could build an eight-court stadium, or something smaller, on the waterfront which would be affordable.”
Mike Freeman, an executive member of the Wellington Basketball Association writes an email proposing for all sport followers to show support of the 12-court stadium instead of a Water Front option with less courts. He proposes in his email, people should show their support by emailing Wellington’s Mayor Kerry Predergast on kerry.prendergast@wcc.govt.nz There is a huge threat for a Sports Centre development in Wellington being delayed by many more years beyond the proposed completion of Cobham Park in 2010. This subject has a large bearing for Volleyball as a sport, as many opportunities for various Volleyball tournaments such as the Wellington League, College Regionals, Junior College North Island, Senior College Nationals, Central Zone & Club Nationals could be held at the Cobham Park venue with affordable and accommodating space with the many courts that it provides.

You can read the story with the Dominion Post by clicking here.

And click below to read Wellington Basketball Committee Member Mike Freeman’s email.

Read the rest of this entry »


Posted in Feature Stories, News, Wellington Region | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Serving for Success

Posted by Rapids Volleyball on Thursday, February 28, 2008

Serving for Success – A Strategy to Enhance Success Behind the End-Line
by Melissa Stokes, Southwest Missouri State University

Melissa Stokes - Courtesy MSU Photo ServicesHaving coached at the high school, club and now the collegiate level, I have the philosophy that a coach needs to develop a serving strategy based on individual player performance. In other words, you want your players to do what they do best in order to serve tough and be competitive.

The success rate in serving is usually measured in terms of an ace to error ratio. In fact, when evaluating post-match serving statistics of a collegiate match, the only feedback that a coach or player gets is the number of aces and errors. I see teams that continue to miss 15 – 20 serves a match in an attempt to score immediately with aces. Several of the missed serves seem to come at times when I see that particular team siding out well and playing pretty good volleyball, but they are not giving themselves an opportunity to score points. In my opinion, there are several other factors that determine successful serving. In this article, I will give you ideas, drills and statistics that will support this philosophy.

“Serve tough” and “be competitive” can be defined as:

1. Serving to a specific area of the court in order to cause some traffic or disrupt play by simply taking a hitter out of their usual attack pattern.

2. Trying to take advantage of a weak passer.

3. Serving a ball with a lot of velocity and/or movement making it difficult to pass
(Examples: Backing up and serving from deep, jump serve or float serve)

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Feature Stories | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

Defensive Troubleshooting

Posted by Rapids Volleyball on Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Here is another article from Volleyball Magazine, February 1998. Former USA Men’s Volleyball Player & Olympian Aldis Berzins, explains a few things about setting up a defence strategy and why. There are many types of defences, Middle-Up, Perimeter, Counter etc. Berzins goes over a little bit about the “Rotating Defence”.

Defensive TroubleshootingAldis Berzins 
by Aldis Berzins

Spectacular defence can get a lot of oohs and ahs out of a crowd. But what’s most important is that it can turn the momentum in your team’s favor. If it’s late in a match, and you dig a ball straight up that’s pounded by the opponent with nobody up, it can be the difference between winning and losing.


Defensive BaseAfter the ball has been served by your team, everyone should be in their base position.

The middle back should be in the center of the court, one step from the endline. The left back and right back should be one step in from the sideline and one step in from the 10-foot line. The left front, middle front and right front should have their hands up and be ready to block.

It is critical to discipline yourself to be in these base positions every time and be ready to dig the ball.



In the standard rotation defense, on a high outside set, the left-front should work hard to get off the net, one step behind the 10-foot line and one step inside the sideline. It’s okay to give up the radical sharp angle shot that lands inside the 10-foot line because only world-class players can hit that shot, and even at that level, it’s rare. Your objective is to get in the flight path of the shot that is most likely to be hit.

When the left-front gets outside the 10-foot line, it allows the left-back to drop back and cover the deeper cross-court angle shot, which is an area many attackers like to hit. In this defense, the left-back usually concedes the corner shot. But if the opposing attackers are continually hitting balls to the corner, the left-back should shift over to cut off the deep corner shot.

Rotating Defence

If you’re a younger player and you’re in the left-front position, it might be hard for you to get behind the 10-foot line, especially on a quick set to the outside. That’s okay. Take large steps and get back as far as you can. You should attempt to straddle the 10-foot line.

Remember, if you’re the left-back or the left-front, any ball that’s hit above your waist is going out. When this happens, pretend you’re playing dodge-ball and get out of the way.

Be sure not to creep in toward the attacker. Most shots are hit within three feet of the sideline or endline, so you should always guard the perimeter. Also, it’s easier to defend moving forward than backward.


As a middle back, you have more ground to cover defensively than anybody else on the court, so it’s important that you don’t get sucked too far in. If you do, you won’t be in position to pick up balls that are deflected off the block. You’re probably best off standing one step inside the endline. That’s far enough back to cover deflections but close enough so you can react and get to an overpass or setter dump.

If you’re not particularly quick-footed, you might want to take one step back and stand right on the endline. That’ll give you an extra step to chase down balls that are hit deep off the block.


No matter where you are, you should freeze when the hitter contacts the ball. This is true even if you’re out of position. Ideally, you want to be in a stable defensive position: low to the ground and ready to come up and meet the ball. A lot of inexperienced players get caught going down into their defensive position as the ball is being hit, which usually results in their missing the dig. Be brave, not afraid. You won’t wind up in the hospital if you get hit by a volleyball. The best defensive players are always thinking about getting the ball up, not about whether their nose is going to be crooked after the play. Have your hands in the down position, but be ready to take the ball overhand if it’s up around your face.


1. When the blocker takes your area, you may be tempted to make a quick move to cover open court. Don’t. You don’t have time to run somewhere else. Just hold your ground and anticipate a shot off the block. Trying to make a last-second move will result in your moving as the ball is being hit, a big no-no.

2. In the rotation defense, if the blockers are covering the line, your job as the right-back should be to release for the tip.

3. If you’re the middle-back and the block is split, hold your ground. Stay in your good defensive position.

4. If the right-side blocker is the only blocker up, coaches usually teach them to block the cross-court angle shot. In this situation, if you’re the line digger, you should prepare for a ball to be pounded directly at you. If you’re the middle-back, shade toward the line side to help the line digger.

5. With nobody up, it’s just you against the hitter. Don’t turn your back and hope not to get hit. Instead, you should lean into the shot and hope to be hit somewhere so that the ball goes up. Remember, a hard-hit volleyball doesn’t cause life-threatening injuries.

Posted in Feature Stories | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

Six Secret Weapons For Setters

Posted by Rapids Volleyball on Monday, February 4, 2008

Six Secret Weapons for Setters
Article by By Lori Endicott for Volleyball Magazine in February 1997.

Lori EndicottQuick Bio
Name: Lori Endicott – Two-Time Olympian
College: University of Nebraska
1993 – Named “Best Setter” World Champ Qualification – Turkey
1992 – Named “Best Setter” at Barcelona Olympic’s
1992 – Olympic, Bronze Medal – Barcelona
1991 – Named “Best Setter” NORCECA Zone Champs
1990 – Bronze Medal – World Champs – China, also named “Best Setter”
1990 – World Champs – China – Fair Play Award. Named “Best Setter” FIVB Super Four – Japan

As a setter, you hold both the team’s most powerful position and its most frustrating one. Setters control the tempo, create the offense and maintain momentum. But with errant passing or weak hitters, setters can be left feeling ineffectual and unable to contribute.

Even if you sometimes feel dependent on your teammates, remember that a setter has weapons, too. Here are six that make you a more potent player.

Good Setting Technique

Good setting techniqueSetters sometimes forget to keep an eye on their own technique. If hitters aren’t converting and passers aren’t performing, it’s easy to shift the blame. But if you work on achieving your best technique on every set, you can save a lot of those bad passes or give a struggling hitter an easy set.

Let’s look at setting from the ground up. First, work on having quick feet-this means moving to the ball before setting it. Once you’re there and ready, your feet should be shoulder-width apart or slightly wider. Bend your knees slightly, and make sure your weight is evenly distributed from the balls of your feet to the arches. Don’t have your weight too far forward or backward because this makes it difficult to change direction.

The foot closest to the net should be a little ahead of the other one. This slightly rotates your hips and shoulders into the court and helps keep the set from drifting too tight or over the net.

Elevate your hands to your forehead, and cock your wrists in anticipation of the set. Keep your hand and fingers firm, point your elbows out at an angle between 45 and 90 degrees.

When you set, use all of your fingers. The ring fingers and the pinkies help stabilize the ball. Also, the more surface area you touch, the better you can control the ball.

Take the set at your forehead, and use your entire body to push it towards the hitter. Finally, follow through with your hands after the ball is released; this helps keep it in a true trajectory.

The Tip

The tipThis is often used by setters who receive a too-tight pass. But by using it only as an emergency play, they lose out on the offensive power behind the tip.

The best time to use the tip is on a good pass because the defense won’t expect it. You have to execute it fairly quickly, but being deceptive is more important than being fast. Good setters combine both speed and deception when they tip.

When executing the tip, use a firm hand and a quick wrist. Avoid using your elbow as a lever because this “slam dunk’ technique will usually get you called for a throw.

You can tip with either hand, and you can direct the ball forward, behind you or to the middle of the court. A tip can be hit short or deep.

I usually tip to the middle because it allows me to be the most deceptive. If the defense changes strategy or is covering the middle well, I’ll tip toward the sidelines.

It’s a good idea to stick with your strong tip, but still throw in a little variety. Eight out of ten times I’ll go with my favorite shot, but the other times I’ll target a new area. And if my opponents start expecting the short tip, I’ll go to the deep corner.

The Jump Set

The jump setJump setting is a great setter’s tool, and it creates many advantages. First, it speeds up your offense because you reach the ball sooner. Second, it often makes it easier to set quicks or shoots because you’re closer to the height of your attacker as she jumps in her approach. And third, it can fool your opponents into thinking you’re going to attack. If they put a blocker on you, that’s one less blocker for your hitter to worry about.

I like to jump set to the outside because a lot of setters jump only when they’re going to set the middle.

I think it’s important that setters learn to set every set both from the ground and from a jump set. When you jump set, make sure your feet are in position first-you have to be under the ball to make an accurate jump set. Use the same body and hand positioning as you’d use on a set from the ground. Set the ball when you reach the peak of your jump. And practice, practice, practice. This set doesn’t come naturally to most people and takes work to master.

Saving the Tight Pass

Saving the tight passSometimes, your passers will overshoot their target (you), and the ball will begin to drift over the net. Instead of cowering as the opposing hitter smashes it back at you, take steps to save the tight pass.

On a tight pass, your first priority is to make a set. On a tight and high pass, the first option is to use a jump set. But doing this requires a pretty good jump and good arm and hand strength.

Angle your back toward the net to keep from netting, jump straight up and contact the ball with both hands. Angle your hands back to your side of the court to help keep the set off the net.

A second option-one that’s much harder to execute-is the one-handed set (pictured). Reach high with your outside hand (the one closest to the net) and keep your hand, fingers and wrist stiff. You have to kind of poke at the ball. This is the safest way to do it without being called for a lift. The softer your hand and wrist are, the more likely it is that the ref will blow the whistle.

If you can’t reach the ball and you’re a front-row setter, try to attack the ball either with a hit or a tip. Or you can put up a block against the opponent’s attack.

If you’re in the back-row, the last-ditch options are limited. If the ball is out of your reach and drifting over the net, try faking a set. This will confuse your opponents and might keep them from attacking the overpass. Another thing you can do is fake a block by jumping, and then pull your hands down. This can also affect their options.

Saving the Net Pass

Saving the net passAlmost as bad as an overpass is the pass that shoots into the net. But this doesn’t take away all your setting options.

Your first step is to save the ball. Watch to see where the ball is going to hit the net, and position yourself under it. Bend your knees, crouch down and wait for the ball to pop out so you can make a bump set (pictured).

Keep an eye on where the ball contacts the net. If it hits up high, chances are that the ball will roll down the net. You’ll need to stay close to the net to make this play. If the ball hits low, it will probably pop out. Be ready to react and move away from the net to reach it.

The biggest mistake is to stay too high. If you’re not crouching low and aren’t ready to react, you’re more likely to misjudge the ball, and then you won’t have time to react.

Hand Setting the Low Pass

Hand setting the low passSometimes a pass comes at you low and quick. Instead of waiting (or hoping) for the ball to hit the net, try to get your hands on it and set it from a low position. It takes a lot of arm strength to set an outside ball like this and a lot of leg strength to support your body in a crouched position. But if you can do it, this is the best way to deal with a low pass. Getting your hands on the ball gives you much better control and better location options.

Get a quick read on the ball, and decide where it’s going to drop. Hustle to that position, and get low. Make sure your feet and body are under the ball because you’ll need that leverage to push the ball up. Take the set in the normal setting position, and push it to your target (pictured).

Posted in Feature Stories | Tagged: | 9 Comments »

Team Unity On Court – In The Huddle

Posted by Rapids Volleyball on Thursday, January 31, 2008

Phill DeSalvo passing with VTAMPhill DeSalvo, Volleyball Team Australia Men’s (VTAM) Libero & professional volleyball player in the Czech Republic. He discus’s on his website an issue about team-huddles to celebrate a point won. Its nothing new to come together to celebrate, but its something not really discussed either. He would be the first to admit its something you don’t necessarily think about, but he has video footage that shows how the Volleyball Team Australia Men come together. Frank Solomona Reports.

What do you think it takes to play good Volleyball? Good Skills, Fitness, Agility, Understanding the Game and much more … All those make sense, but how about Team Unity? No one-player goes out onto the court to win the game all by themselves (besides excellent servers). Apart from serving, the only skill in volleyball where you can change the outcome of the game, all by yourself, with no help from any team-mate. I believe from my experience in watching secondary school volleyball, that the young kids struggle in this part of the game, which is celebrating a point won. I’ve taken excerpts from Phill DeSalvo’s post about huddling in Volleyball to reinforce how it effects players in a very positive way. And who better to illustrate the concept then a player that is an elite athlete living & breathing “Volleyball”.

VTAM team huddle“Enjoying each point as a team – I think that it’s important to come in as a team and enjoy each point together. I find that when you are in the huddle … Some of the things that are said sometimes can really fire everyone up.”
Phill DeSalvo

To believe that one player in a volleyball team makes the team is a bit of a stretch. Without your team mates, you won’t be getting very far, volleyball is truly the ultimate team-sport. To find a good bond (on & off the court) also being able to create as a unit the intensity that is needed to play good volleyball can easily be created, by coming into a huddle to celebrate & encourage.
In New Zealand there is many teams that create team chants with foot-stomps or just hand clap-sequences, or a combination of the two. Some Asian teams would run around in figure-eight circles. Its virtually trying to synchronise everyone on court to pay attention and hype each other up when things are going well & drop the morale of the opposition. Works for some teams, but not for all, some go about their business quietly, but they can suffer from a lack of unification during the match and lose momentum as a team.

Communication – I find that when you are in the huddle you can quickly discuss something with another player. I just had a quick look at the videos that I have put up and sometimes you can see someone talking to someone else. I know that I use the huddle to talk about something tactical that is going on in the game such as if someone had a good blocking position in front of me, maybe the middles will tell the setter that the opposition is jumping with them every time, hitters can give feedback to the setter about the set … – Phill DeSalvo

But what about the team huddle? Here is a situation where you are giving no emotion to your opponents to feed off from & at the same time you draw energy from your team mates & you can get as emotional as you want in the huddle.

Phill DeSalvo CZ-PrahaPhill DeSalvo has made time in his busy career to help younger volleyball players understand that you can make a living out of playing volleyball. He created his on website and explains he and many others from this side of the world are living proof. On his website he makes analysis of the game of Volleyball from his point of view as an International & Professional Volleyball Player.

Quick Bio
– Name: Phillip Daniel DeSalvo
– Hometown: Melbourne
– Club: CZU Praha Volleyball
– Position: Libero
– Height: 182cm
Australian International

“I really feel that if in both the teams that I play in, if we didn’t have the huddle that we would lose some of the intensity within the team.”
Phill DeSalvo

You can read more of Phill DeSalvo’s answer to the huddle aswell as some tips about the game by clicking on his name.
You can also watch a video from Phill DeSalvo below which illustrates the celebration of a point by using the huddle.

Posted in Feature Stories | Tagged: , | 3 Comments »

How To Pass The Toughest Serves

Posted by Rapids Volleyball on Monday, January 28, 2008

Bob “Robert” CtvrtlikHow To Pass The Toughest Serves
First Published in 1998 for Volleyball Magazine by Bob Ctvrtlik.
Photos differ to the original publication – Photos help with the illustration of Bob Ctvrtlik’s article.

  • Quick BioBob Ctvrtlik 
  • 3-time Olympian for the U. S, Men’s Indoor National Team.
  • Gold medal at the 1988 Olympic Games
  • Bronze at the 1992 Olympics.
  • Awarded “Best Player in the World” in 1995.

“The sport of volleyball, it has been such a significant part of my life,
I loved it the first day I played and I loved it the last day I retired.”
Bob Ctvrtlik.

Bob Ctvrtlik Platform PassLet’s set the record straight. I’m not the best jumper in the world, and I’m not the quickest guy who ever played in the Olympics. But I pride myself on my consistent passing ability, and that means putting the ball on the setter’s head 95 times out of 100.

Passing is one of the most underrated skills in volleyball. These days, with so much emphasis on power, young players-especially big ones-spend most of their time practicing to become big bombers. There’s nothing wrong with being able to bring the heat, but don’t forget to spend some of that time working on passing reps, too. If you’re not a big bomber, great passing will earn you a spot on the court. If you are and you can also pass, you’ll be an extremely valuable member of your team.

Being a skilled passer may not get you the big headlines, but it will help you contribute to making the offense work efficiently. Every time you send a perfect or near-perfect pass to the setter, the chances of your siding out go up exponentially. You allow the setter to dictate the tempo and style of the offense, rather than limiting his choices with a poor pass.

Good passing makes everyone look good. Maybe it’s just a coincidence, but I’ve always become good friends with the setter on every team I’ve ever played on.

Create A Perfect Platform

Here are a few things to keep in mind: There are three basic types of underarm passes: straight away (left) the side (centre) and high and deep (right).

 Straight AwayTo The SideHigh & Deep


Marv DunphyPepperdine Coach Marv Dunphy always told me that to form a good platform, your two arms should work as one. One mental picture that helps me is to think of my arms as a 2×4 piece of wood, straight and working together. The closer together you can place your arms, the easier it will be for you to pass well. In general, women tend to form a more natural platform than men because of their muscle structure. In my case, I had to stretch my shoulders and chest muscles for nearly a year and a half before I could bring my arms completely together. Remember, if your platform is correct, forget all the rest … more often than not, the pass will bounce in a true trajectory. If a ball is to one side or another, you need to get your platform at an angle by dropping your inside shoulder. If the ball is at your right, drop your left shoulder and vice versa. A good way to practice forming a stable platform is the old stand-by pass the ball against a wall. Pick a point on the wall, pass 20 balls to your left side without stopping and then 20 to your right. This makes you more comfortable adjusting your platform and also teaches you focus. Also, hit some balls off the wall and over your shoulder. Work on taking a drop step and passing to the same spot.

Drop A Knee On The Short Serve

Argentina's Bidegain with Platform Pass. Courtesy of the FIVB.The main key here is to judge the flight of the ball, get there early and get your butt down. Unless you absolutely have to sprawl, stay on your feet so you’re available to attack. It’s important to get there as early as possible so you don’t have to curl the ball by scooping it with your arms.


Before almost every serve, I look to see where I am relative to the sideline. One thing that I find very helpful is scouting the server. Not a lot of people do this, but if you watch players for a few minutes, it’s easy to see where they like to hit the ball on the serve. If you feel more comfortable passing balls that are on your right side, position yourself just to the left of the server’s favorite spot.

Next time you’re killing a few minutes between matches at a tournament, take some time to watch one rotation of an opposing team. It’ll pay off when the match starts.

The High Riser

I try to stand in a spot where I know that any ball that’s hit at my neck with any kind of pace is going out of bounds.

Svyatoslav Miklashevich of Kazakstan. Photo courtesy of FIVB.Turn And Extend On The High, Deep Side Serve

If a ball is deep, turn to to the side it’s coming toward and take a drop step. For instance, if it’s coming up high to your right, turn and make a deep plant with your right foot back. Bring your arms up, but be sure to hold your platform, then direct the ball up to the setter.

When you adjust to the high ball, one arm will have to slide ahead of the other. It’s the same concept as when you’re skiing and your uphill ski slides ahead of your inside ski.

Stopping The Jump Serve

Riley Salmon passes for the USA. Photo courtesy of the FIVB.Jump serves aren’t as intimidating as they look. In fact, I think they’re usually a lot easier to pass than float serves. It’s just a matter of getting the right tempo and adjusting your platform so the ball doesn’t go over the net.

If a player is really pounding the ball, don’t try to make a perfect pass. Just make sure it’s set-able. Players often make the mistake of trying to pass a heater perfectly and end up over-passing the ball for an error.

Passing jump serves isn’t much different from making a dig. You should start in a defensive position, though not quite as low. Prepare yourself for the toughest serve, but don’t stand back on your heels. Stay balanced so you can move forward.

Again, pay attention to server tendencies. Teams should position their best passer where the server hits the ball most often. Always be looking for little clues. For example, the server may take a smaller jump or have a more relaxed arm-swing when serving short.

Don’t worry about giving up the perfect jump serve. If they’re going to hit the ball as hard as they can on the line, congratulations. Forget it, and move on to the next play.

Always try to get directly behind the serve. Against jump servers, take a step back so the balls are coming in at abdomen level or lower. It’s much easier to control a jump serve when it’s in front of you. If you have to take it up high, it’s hard to pass because of the velocity.

One thing I used to do before big matches was have a coach stand on a box and pound 20 balls at me, starting slow and working my way toward hard hits. That helps you get your platform ready and your trajectory set before play begins.

Cushion The Tough Jump Serve

Cuba's Yasser Portuondo  Reception. Photo courtesy of the FIVB.If a server is just ripping the ball, there are a couple of ways to take heat off it. I had one coach over in Italy who taught us to start a roll when the ball came in and collapse behind it. That takes a lot of heat off it although I don’t like to do it unless it’s absolutely necessary because it takes you out of the offense. But if you’re in the back row, it’s no problem. Another way to take some steam off a tough serve is to bring your arms back toward your body. With this technique, you can stay on your feet.

On normal passes, your platform should always be moving toward the setter, away from your body.

Collapse On A Short, Fast Jump Serve

Bob Ctvrtlik - Collapse PassOnly use this in emergency situations. But if it’s your last option, remember to curl the ball back after your sprawl. Players often make the mistake of keeping their platform the same as normal, and when they do that, the ball goes right over the net. You have to really exaggerate the curling of your arm. If you think the ball is going to end up on the 10-foot line, it’ll probably be perfect-right on the setter’s head.

Posted in Feature Stories | Tagged: , | 11 Comments »