On the volleyball court, women better dig

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Researchers at Brigham Young University have found that scavenging is king for players, leading more consistently to scoring than focusing on powerful serves. Conversely, male players (with their greater upper body muscle mass) have an interest in perfecting their serving technique and positioning.

A full season of data was pulled in 2006 from a Division I college women’s team, where every play – serves, assists, and digs – was scored on a point-wide system. The location of the attack was also noted, as was the distance between the player and the net when he passed the ball (usually coming out of an opponent’s serve).

“The results of this Division I women’s team indicate that passing, passing and digging are all relatively high in importance. We believe this is a fundamental difference in men’s and women’s games,” the study concluded. . “The men hit the ball harder, which means the rally ends earlier, and serving and attacking matter more. In women’s football the rally is longer, so digging is much more important.”

Sure, but top junior, college, or Olympic level volleyball requires a full, comprehensive skill set, as seen in this clip from a 2009 NCAA regional tournament between Texas and Minnesota. To be the best, you had better be good at digs, services, and everything in between.

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Photo: AP / Adam Lau

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