Boise State’s volleyball team will run a 6-2 offense when they come to Moby Arena, which features two setters in the back row rather than one in the front row like CSU employs.
This creates three attacking options in the front row rather than two, which alleviates pressure from the individual hitters.
The Broncos also complicate the scheme by accelerating their tempo to both outside hitters. Senior Liz Harden and sophomore Alyssa Gammel rank third and fourth in the Mountain West in kills per set at 3.68 and 3.47.
“It’s really going to stress (senior middle blockers) Megan (Plourde) and Breion (Paige),” CSU coach Tom Hilbert said. “They’re going to have to be fast, disciplined, watch the ball and go. At times they’re going to have to guess, or we’ll guess for them.”
It takes many well-rounded, technically skilled volleyball players to run the system because a team is using all of its limited substitutions to move the setters around. The outside hitters are the team’s primary passers and must possess good ball-control skills.
Hilbert chose not to run a 6-2 at CSU because he recruits bigger, more athletic players that might be more long-term projects as complete players.
“We recruit a lot of kids who aren’t great volleyball players, who need development,” he said. “To run that system you need two setters and six attackers that are all competent and ready to play.”
Boise State chooses to recruit these smaller, more skilled players and fit its system to that, which can create problems when the Broncos encounter taller, more athletic teams like CSU.
“They have the best athletes in the conference, and they’re the best blocking team in the conference,” Boise State coach Shawn Garus said. “Their size creates issues, but what they do with their size in the blocking scheme makes them so dangerous.”
CSU’s “scheme blocking” focuses on shutting down individual attackers rather than a system as a whole, which makes blocking a 6-2 no different than blocking an offense with a single setter.
“We do it for every team, so there’s nothing really changing,” CSU senior middle blocker Megan Plourde said. “We’re going to find the best hitters, the most efficient hitters and Matt will be calling the same blocking calls we do for every team.”
The Broncos have been trying to work around that scheme by focusing on hitting higher and into the seams between blocks, but are more focused on their side of the net.
“We’re not going to let what our opponent does consume us,” Garus said.
Assistant sports editor Kyle Grabowski can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.