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Volleyball/Setter calling plays...when? how? what if? SO MANY VARIABLES!


Hey Coach Houser! This is Susanna. I have a question about the setter's communication on the court. I know that they setter needs to tell everyone on the court what spike to take before the play starts, but I would really appreciate a more in depth explanation of that. How far in advance does the setter call it? What are the different spikes a setter would call, and how are they called? What if the setter is not able to give the set they want to? Also- if for example, you tell your MH before the play that they will take the back-twos, and the ball is in volley for a while- does the MH have to take a back-two every time the ball comes back over? I feel like that would become predictable- but do not know when the setter would have the chance to reassign the MH. Thanks a lot!

Hello Susanna:

This question got way down in my inbox, and I'd completely forgotten about it.  I'm so sorry.  
Your question is a great one! I struggled with this for a long time myself.  Here's what my team does.

When serve receiving:
* My setter calls two plays.  One is the play for the first pass/set/hit, and the next one if the play for all other good passes.

When we're serving:
* My setter calls one play.  It's what we will do on every good pass.  

On a bad pass:
* There has to be some player who isn't running "the play".  She is the "release".  That's where the set can go.
* Also, just like in football, there can be "audibles".  So, if the setter if running forward, the MB can say, "BACK, BACK, BACK!" and your OH can holler, "UP! UP! UP!" instead of expecting a shoot.  

You say you're worried about being predictable.
* Your setter probably won't set the same girl over and over and over.  
* And the average rally lasts 3 times over the net.  So, no, you won't be predictable.  

Again, I apologize for my lack of promptness.  
I hope that this hasn't caused you too much trouble.  
Thank you for your patience and I hope you're having a great week.

Readers:  If I EVER don't answer your promptly, please contact me at  I never neglect one of these intentionally.  

Coach Houser  


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Tom Houser


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