Sunday, December 09, 2012

Still Conflicted

Two weeks after Melrose's crowning achievement, I'm still a bit conflicted, not with cognitive dissonance about winning, but about when to move on. Let's enjoy, but move on.

I've talked about Melrose's "complementary volleyball", the front row blockers making life better for the back row, the back row's "platform skills" helping the setter, and the excellent setting for the attack.

Competition is the operative word for Melrose volleyball 2013. To whomever I am forgetting, apologies in advance.

Despite graduating Boston Globe Player of the Year Brooke Bell, Melrose will have tremendous competition for the setter position, including but not limited to Maeve Moriarty, Allie Nolan, and Amanda Cain. Nobody should forget that setters 'set', but they also defend, serve, block, AND attack, in other words they use all the volleyball skills. Although I don't "channel" Coach Scott Celli, I more than take him at his word that every position is open. Players play, coaches coach, and eventually the spots get filled.

Similarly, despite Amanda Commito's impending graduation, Melrose's strength comes from the back, with high talent and effort level in Jill MacInnes, Allie Nolan, Cassidy Barbaro, Maave Moriarty, and under-rated Alyssa Abbott. This gives the coaching staff a lot of flexibility going forward.

In the classic Art of War, author Sun Tzu writes "every battle is won or lost before it is fought," meaning preparation, strategy, and training define outcomes.

Ergo, one major determinant of success going forward is the outcome of the competition for front row spots. Melrose graduates some of the premier blockers in its history, including Rachel Johnson, Kayla Wyland, and Sarah McGowan. I'm not going to review the roster of superior blockers from past Melrose teams, just note that blockers are not fungible year to year.

Blocking is about timing, technique, and of course, some combination of height and jumping ability. The middle blocker spots occupied by Sarah and Rachel are wide open, with a host of players fighting for time. A roster spot on the 2012 team guarantees nothing going forward. Stephanie Crovo and Meri Lessing have the advantage of having practiced against Melrose's championship front line. Although Annalisa DeBari played outside in 2012, she could migrate to the middle if needed. JV players can develop with off-season work, and one has to be aware of "unknowns", as the eighth grade class has both size and athleticism.

Here's an introduction to volleyball blocking technique with some concepts that may not be intrinsically obvious:

well-done on what to track

Enjoy the journey.

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