Coverage by Attack Zone

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We looked at this a couple times at Illinois but I don’t think it was ever concrete enough to become actionable in terms of devoting practice time to it. What you see above is where coverage digs/errors were made by teams in the Big Ten and Pac 12 this season. What this does not show is the accurate percentage of where balls actually landed. But if there was a dig code after your attacker was blocked, this shows the location of those codes, broken down by zone. The start zone is where the attack took place, the end zone is where the cover took place.

The trend is pretty obvious: most coverage touches occur in the same zone that the hitter attacks in – makes sense. You’ll also see a similar trend into the middle third of court, where attackers in zone 2 are likely to be covered in zone 9 (between 2 and 1 down the line) and likewise for zone 3 and 4 attackers who see a slight rise in zone 7 and 8 coverage, respectively.

Naturally, you might want to play the percentages and make sure whatever zone you attack in, you have strong coverage for as well. What this chart doesn’t break down is the type of set the attacker is going after, nor does it account for the general tendencies of each hitter. If you have an attacker like Sarah Wilhite who likes to bounce balls down the line and attack deeper into the angle, then maybe you want to cover directly under her in zone 4 – and you might expect more deflections to land in zones 3 and 8 when she attacks angle.

I think coverage studies are interesting, but you lose way too much in the aggregate. Personally, when I’m thrown out there as an outside, I know I attack high down the line and low around the inside of the middle blocker’s inside hand. So if I was designing coverage around myself, I would make sure to have someone in zones 7 and 5 (deep down the line behind me) and then throw the rest of the team into zones 3 and 2 if that middle happens to have bigger hands that I’m expecting… Or pulls a Hannah Tapp and just dives hard into the cross because she knows closing the seam is overrated sometimes.

Anyway, that’s all I have to say about that.

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