Sep 222011
Authors: Kyle Grabowski

“The students have the best perspective of the game,” coach Tom Hilbert said. “I believe watching the game from behind the court is the best place to see what’s really going on offensively.”

But how many students know what’s going on in front of them, outside of chanting “C,S,U” in time with the bump, set, spike? Odds are not nearly as many as those just there for the eye candy.

If they look beyond the spandex, fans will see a varied and complex offense that goes far deeper than just trying to get the ball back over the net.

Pass ball to center of front of net

As soon as the opponents hit the ball, CSU defenders are making reads to get into position to receive it and make the best possible pass.

“We want to pass the first ball to a spot that is close to the center of the court and the net,” Hilbert said.

The Rams have what they call “primary passers,” who touch the first ball 90 percent of the time. They are Izzy Gaulia, Dana Cranston, Katelyn Steffan, Michelle Smith, and Carlie Foust.

“I’m trying to get the ball high in the middle of the court,” Gaulia said. “At that point I did my job, the ball’s going to be set and I need to go cover my hitter.”

Prepare ball for hitter to attack

Redshirt freshman Deedra Foss always makes the second contact in CSU’s offense, and it’s her decision where to set the ball and what tempo to use.

“I’m thinking about the blockers on the other side and I’m thinking about who’s ready to hit,” Foss said. “If someone’s not calling it they’re probably not ready. They usually talk to me like go fast or go high.”

When she receives the set in the middle of the floor in front of the net in the ideal position, Foss has as many as three different options to go with the ball.

“She has to be deceptive, unpredictable, but still make good decisions,” Hilbert said. “She’s expected to know who the hot hitters are and where the other teams’ weaknesses are.”

Foss compared her position to a quarterback in football because she calls and makes many of the plays.

Kill the ball or use a trouble shot

After Foss sets it, either an outside hitter or middle blocker will attack the ball with the primary responsibility of getting a kill. If they don’t feel comfortable or don’t think they can get a kill, the attackers are instructed to go with “trouble shots.”

The primary goal of a trouble shot is to put the ball where it’s difficult for the other team to transition it back on offense.

“If we can get a ball back in the corner or tip it or carom it off the block, then those are good things,” Hilbert said.

When an attacker is going for the ball in the air, they’re calling the set they want while looking at the block and attempting to look for an opening.

“You go for the kill if you have a good set and a good in-rhythm approach, especially if the block’s not well-formed,” Hilbert said. “If the block’s not well-formed we want them taking a big cut at it.”

_Volleyball Beat Reporter Kyle Grabowski can be reached at _

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