This is the second of a two-part series that goes “inside the numbers” to give you a high-level “volleydork” view of a team’s keys to victory. The match we picked was Saturday’s Big 12 contest between #18 Baylor and #19 Iowa State in Waco, Texas. If you missed the first SR, you can read my preview here. If you’re just interested in the match recap without the in-depth view, you can read that recap here.
We spent a little time talking about both Baylor’s and Iowa State’s keys to victory. Let’s see if they followed the blueprints we laid out:
IOWA STATE KEYS TO VICTORY
- Get everyone involved
Setter Monique Harris did her job well. She had a consistently even distribution of sets to each of the Cyclones’ four attackers (Schaben, 28 attempts; Conaway, 26; West and Lazard, 20 each). Passing wasn’t the greatest, but Harris, like all good setters, put her hitters in positions to put balls away. Most of her distributions were not only hittable, but terminable as well. Once the ball leaves the setter’s hands, however, it’s up to the hitters to make good decisions.
Iowa State averages over 3 blocks a set. 7.5 total blocks against Baylor is well below that mark. The Cyclones also average north of 17 digs per set. ISU did not even average 11 per set. When your entire defense-feeds-offense philosophy breaks down, it makes for a quick match. The Cyclones’ success this season have come when BOTH parts of their defense produce.
BAYLOR KEYS TO VICTORY
- Ride Your Horses
Indeed, the Bears did just that. With Staiger not in the lineup, Yossiana Pressley shouldered the load by averaging nearly 5 kills per set in the sweep of ISU. Aniah Philo played valiantly, adding another 13 kills to the attack.
- We play defense too!
In my preview, I emphasized that ISU has defensive capabilities, but Baylor has their moments of brilliance as well. You may not be able to outblock the second-best Big 12 blocking team (ISU), but you can compete, which they did. 7.5-7 in terms of blocking numbers is practically a wash, and since Baylor averages nearly a block less per set, I’m sure the Baylor faithful were satisfied with those numbers. A 44-32 advantage in the digs department against the normally stalwart Cyclone defense is also a pleasing number to see, and hopefully not the start of a disturbing trend for the Cyclones.
BAYLOR WON. SO NOW WHAT?
Good question. New RPI rankings don’t come out until Monday, November 6, and I anticipate Baylor improves from 26, but might need another big win (perhaps at Kansas on 11/11 or at home against Texas on 11/25) to lock in their chance to host on the first weekend. Iowa State’s RPI number of 14 won’t stay there, regardless of how tough their schedule has been. The Cyclones have split the season series with Kansas, but zero wins over Baylor in a season for the first time since 2004 can’t help. Getting Texas at home on 11/11 might be ISU’s last chance at improving their capabilities in the eyes of the NCAA seeding committee. None of ISU’s other remaining matches (WVU, OU, Texas Tech and TCU) are against teams with NCAA tournament aspirations. Of the remainder, West Virginia has the best RPI number, sitting at 65. And that match is this Wednesday in Morgantown. In my humble opinion, the next two matches for the Cyclones dictate exactly what the committee will do with the Cyclones come Selection Sunday.