Texas 2016

So I shot Jerritt my resumé the other day to volunteer next fall in Austin and have been watching a bunch of Texas film, just trying to get my feet under me with how they operate. Personally, I’m pretty unfamiliar with Texas outside of the stereotypes of being huge, athletic, big arms, poor passing, and making the final four on a nonchalantly consistent basis. But the more I watched, the more I saw beyond these things.

It’s unmistakable how Paulina Prieto Cerame (PPC from here on in) fits this stereotypical Texas mold. She has a big arm, not always a ton of range, and wasn’t a 6 rotation outside for them. So when she encountered Stanford in the finals and Inky taking away her go-to crosscourt swing, things went downhill.

But if you watch Micaya White, Ebony Nwanebu, and Yaasmeen Bedart-Ghani (YBG), this trio has a much higher volleyball IQ than what Texas stereotypes would suggest. White has the ability to take rips on the full spectrum, even supposedly tagging assistant Erik Sullivan on a 4 to 4 ball during warmups in Columbus – but she still has that Riley Salmon cuff shot down the line that often drops in front of rightback. Oh, and she can pass… Nwanebu beats you in four ways. She can hit a cut 2 to 2 inside your middle’s inside hand, she can BOUNCE a ball into the seam, she can go over you down the line into deep 5-6, and she can take an inside set and crush it wrist away back down the line when the blocker dives into the angle. YBG has played like 7 different positions for Texas in the last 2 years. I’m not sure how she hit .371 on the season and .336 last year – that’s silly.

I only have access to about seven matches worth of data since Texas plays not in the Big10 or Pac12, so take that for what it is. But those seven matches are: Wisconsin, Oregon, Nebraska 2x, BYU, Creighton, and Stanford.

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Here is how well Texas hits in FBSO off various pass ratings. And while they do get aced at 6% (nearly double other top teams), they hit for such a high number in perfect, good, and “meh” situations that unless you prohibit them from getting an attack (R/ or ace), you’re in trouble. Again, this just is for seven matches – but those 7 are against big time opponents.

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Above is how teams FBSO against Texas versus the percentage of service error broken up per set. So if you look at Wisconsin (who won in 5 in the preseason), you’ll see no correlation between SE% and Wisconsin’s FBSO. Stanford on the other hand in those 4 sets actually did better in their FBSO as Texas served tougher because it was accompanied by too much service error – meaning that the risk/reward wasn’t necessarily there in that national championship match to validate the increased error.

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Next I looked at (in these 7 matches) who Chloe Collins should be setting from various zones on the floor. I removed instances where the subzone had fewer than 5 attacks resulting from it. But as you can tell, setting Nwanebu and the quicks whenever you can would be the better choice statistically.

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Last thing. Here’s how I would evaluate Texas’s passers. This graph only shows passers with 10+ passes in any given match – but it shows the “expected FBSO eff” from the given passes that night. So to be clear, this is not how Texas actually hit off of each passer, but uses the average efficiency from all seven matches to determine what is expected off a R#, R+, etc. Once we know what each type of pass is worth, we multiply those values by the percentage of each type that each passer got in the match – sum them up – and that’s the expected FBSO eff. PPC is definitely the person you’d want to pick on, but the argument between Dalton and McCoy is pretty even, especially in the sweet sixteen to national championship 4-match sequence. Also a good sign for Texas, Micaya White seems to hold her own when she does get served – validating her use as a 6-rotation OH for them.

Anyway, just wanted to dive a little deeper into Texas and figured I’d share it since I haven’t posted in a while.

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p.s. a lot of people will argue that Texas doesn’t have good passers. The effpercentage is that same “expected FBSO eff” built using expected values from all teams in the seven matches. Then I’ve sorted them by best to worst performances by passers with 10+ passes. Granted, Texas appears in all seven matches – but even still, there are a whole lotta Texas kids in the top portion of this list. So pump the brakes, people who think Texas isn’t an effective passing team.