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AZ Sky 12-Twisterz
Team Members: Samantha Allen, Alexandra Anderson, Savannah Bridges, Morgan Drew, Abby Hornacek, Elizabeth Keig, Jessica Michael, Brittany Rhodes, Sarah Sponcil, Allie Teilborg. Head Coach Sean Parchmann, Assistant Coach: Denise Nasser
AZ Sky Earns Three-Peat in Region’s 12’s
Twisterz stop “That Team” in Anticipated Finale.
The AZ Sky 12-Twisterz, coached by Sean Parchmann and Denise Nasser, won their third Region title in a row with a 25-14, 26-24 win over the Arrowhead 12-That Team coached by Leaven Eubank on Saturday, April 8th at Glendale Community College.
With the win, Parchmann and Nasser completed their own triple crown with three straight Cactus Classic titles, three straight Region titles and three straight JOVC bids. With regard to the amazing consistency of success, Parchmann said, “I finally feel that it wasn’t a fluke!”
The Twisterz undefeated region-match streak from last year to this year came
to an end at the hands of this same “That Team" earlier in the season.
It vaulted “That Team” to the number one ranking, the first time in three years
Parchmann’s bunch hadn’t been at the top. “This is a caring bunch of young
ladies” Sean says. “I remember when we suffered our only region loss and the
girls were more upset that they broke the coaches winning streak.”
“ The personalities on this team are all over the board. They range from shy and quiet to wildly dramatic but they all get along and they support each other when it counts.” Parchmann lauds, but adds proudly, “They are not afraid to work hard, most of the time they welcome a good challenge. It all probably seems a little much for 10 through 12 year olds but I think we strike a good balance of hard work and fun. All of the girls seem to like coming to practice and that is how I measure success.”
The Twisterz foray into the NQ territory took them to the Colorado Crossroads tournament in March. “We have a fairly small team,” Sean says, “and the look on the parent's faces when they saw the size of the other 12's teams was priceless. If you haven't been to a National Qualifier, it’s hard to imagine the concentration of giant young ladies all in one convention center. I heard a lot of ‘she can’t be twelve’ and ‘can we check birth certificates?’ There was a little uncertainty in the girl's eyes too. It only took a couple of games for them to realize that they were the ones that the other teams had to beat. We went in ranked 5th in the Nation and left ranked 4th. I couldn't have asked for a better experience for them.”
Parchmann and Nasser, now veterans of the Regional finals, worked to keep his girls aggressive no matter the competitive level. “All season the team's serving percentage was around 90% and this day was no different.” Parchmann said of his teams goals. “We had to face Arrowhead in the championship match. They were the team who we lost our match to in mid-season. The second game was too close for comfort. Both teams battled and made great plays. I held my breath as one of my girls went up to hit a beautiful set on match point. The spike hit the floor on the other side of the net and the team exploded with excitement. Arrowhead has a great team. They pushed us and made us play our best all season. Good competition creates better teams and they made us better.”
For Leaven Eubank, the victory wasn’t in the scoreboard, but the progress his girls made through a tumultuous season. “Two tournaments ago we had a player go down with an ankle injury.” He recalls. “We all know how adversity can sometimes play havoc on a team, especially a young one. I called a time out right after the injury and explained to the team they would be ok, they just needed believe in each other. We changed our offense and defense during that time out and the girls ran like we had practiced it for months. That is one of many things that have impressed me about this team all year.”
Arrowhead 12-That Team
Team Members: Janine Abraham, Seah Bowser, Vanessa
Eubank, Kristen Hostetler, Cherynne Lara, Natasha Lucero, Ashley Palmer,
Noel Pauga, Haley Pierce, Angelie Tarango
Eubanks’s team consisted of only four players returning from a year ago and the rest of the team had never played club before. “I try to get the athletes and the parents to understand the last tournament is really the one that matters.” He says. “We were number one in the region for a couple weeks and after the injury we weren't able to keep the momentum, dropped two matches in one day and dropped out the top division for the first time all year. The young ladies were focused to get back to where they knew they belonged in the first division.”
After losing 2 matches several weeks ago this team came out and won their next 8 straight matches (only losing 1 game during that run). At the Regional tournament, the 7th seeds upset a few teams that had beaten them earlier. “We did not accomplish our ultimate goal of winning the region but these girls, parents and other teams in the region know they are very good team that you will see more of them over the next few years.” Eubanks says proudly.
Eubank’s girls chose the name "That Team" because they felt they
had the potential of being the best or one of the best and they showed that
time and time again with respect for everyone they played. “I have had the
opportunity to coach some pretty special athletes/volleyball players over the
last 23 years, Eubanks says, “But this team impressed us everyday with the
skills they developed and how they are understood the game.”
“I just want the athletes to understand this is for them and their growth as a player and a person. There is nothing that makes me happier than to see a young athlete accomplish a skill they have struggled with. You can just see it in their eyes, the sense of accomplishment. Our philosophy is simply we do it for the young ladies, it is all about them and how we can help them grow and develop as athletes and people. It is a privilege to get to coach young people and we need to ensure we are not stumping their growth, but in fact helping speed it up.”
Well put Coach.
The Arizona Region’s Junior Beach program is back for its third year. The program has become a model for other regions across the country and this year promises to be even better!
In addition to 9 regular tournaments in which the top point earners will have their entry into USAV Jr. Beach Nationals paid for, there is also a High Performance tournament wherein the winners will receive free entry into the USAV Beach High Performance Camp, a Father/Daughter tournament on Father’s Day, a coed tournament and a tournament for female college players, past and present!
Cave Creek’s Lora Webster was named to the 2006 USA Women’s Sitting Team roster that will compete in the World Championships to be held June 18-26 th in the Netherlands. This is Webster’s second stint on the national team after winning the bronze medal in the 2004 Athens Paralympic games, the first USA team to medal in the volleyball competition. While there was no competitions in 2005, the team has been together on and off since February training across the country with stops recently in California, Colorado, Nevada, Georgia and one more planned for Louisiana in late May.
Check the Arizona Region site at www.azregionvolleyball.org and check out the Camps link to find links to several volleyball camps going on around Arizona and surrounding areas. Newly added camps include the Gilbert Tiger Volleyball Camps and the Excel Volleyball Camps.
The Arizona Region has announced the particulars of its High Performance Camp to be held June 2-4 th at Kingdom Courts in Phoenix.
The Camp will be under the direction of Melissa Wolter, the head coach at the University of Western Florida and the Assistant Coach for the USA Youth National team the past two years and Erikka Gulbranson, the current coach at Vanguard University in Southern California and the Assistant Coach for the USA Youth National Team the past three seasons.
In addition to running the camp, these two will also use the camp as a chance to identify any players they feel might be possible material for future National Team consideration.
Age divisions for the camp will be as follows:
The HP Select campers must be Girls born in 1992, 1993 and after
The Youth campers must be Girls born in 1990 and 1991
There are no exceptions to this as anyone being considered for the National teams will have to fall in these age divisions.
The Arizona Region has trained and sponsored a team the past five years that has participated in the High Performance Championships. The camp figures to offer more athletes the chance to be introduced to the High Performance Program and the methods taught at the U.S. Olympic training level, as well as give coaches a chance to learn and teach these USA Volleyball techniques as well.
The Region will reevaluate the program next season and make a determination at that time to work on choosing a traveling team once again, or continue the HP camp.
Friday, June 2
HP Select Check-in 11:30-Noon
HP Select Session I Noon till 3 – (3 hours)
HP Youth Check-in 3:00-3:30
HP Youth Session I 3:30-6:30 – (3 hours)
Saturday, June 3
HP Select Session II 8:00 a.m.-10:00 – (2 hours)
HP Youth Session II 10:00- Noon (2 hours)
HP Select Session III 2:00-5:00 (3 hours)
HP Youth Session III 5:00-8:00 (3 hours)
Sunday, June 4
HP Select Session IV 9:00-Noon (3 hours)
HP Youth Session IV 3:00-6:00 (3 hours)
After four years of building the volleyball team at Vanguard, hard work finally paid off for Gulbranson and the 2004 VU volleyball Lions. Coming off a winning 2003 season (14-12) she and the Lions produced the program’s first back-to-back winning seasons with a 25-14 mark, breaking the school record for wins in a season for the second straight year. In addition, the Lions finished 11-9 in GSAC and made the postseason playoffs for the first time since the 1994 season. Lifting her overall coaching record at Vanguard to 54-70, Gulbranson will continue the process of taking the Vanguard volleyball program to the next level.
Gulbranson has thirteen years of coaching experience to her credit, including junior national, club, high school, individual, camp, and clinic experience. At the university level, Erikka has been an assistant at CSUB, University of Idaho, Utah State University, and most recently at the University of Southern California. After serving two summers as an assistant coach for the USA Girl’s Youth National Team (GYNT) in international competition, Gulbranson took over the head coaching role this past summer. Guiding the USA GYNT to a fourth place finish at the 18U World Championships in China, Gulbranson continues to expand an already vast coaching resume and growing knowledge of the game.
Gulbranson was a four-year team captain as a player at Cal State Bakersfield, and helped lead the Roadrunners to three NCAA Division II Championship appearances and two second-place finishes. The outside hitter was invited to try out for the US National Team following her senior season.
Erikka attained a B.S. degree in Physical Education and a M.A. in Education at CSUB. She is single and makes her home in Long Beach.
The University of West Florida found the perfect fit for the new head coach of the fourth-year Argonaut volleyball program in Melissa Wolter. Wolter took over the young program in 2003 and also serves as the UWF Senior Woman Administrator. In just her first year at West Florida, Wolter led the team to its best season record yet of 24-7, including a 15-match winning streak and the Argos' second straight bid to the Gulf South Conference Tournament. Her 2003 squad also set team season records in all categories: kills, attacks, hitting percentage, digs, blocks, service aces and assists. The Argonauts made their first appearance in the AVCA Top 25 and ended the season nationally ranked for hitting percentage (25th), kills per game (20th) and assists per game (26th).
Wolter joined the UWF staff from University of Wisconsin-Parkside in Kenosha, Wisc. a fellow NCAA Division II institution. She was the head coach of the UWP Rangers for three years, and prior to that time served as an assistant after graduating from UWP in 1998. Wolter led the Rangers to their seventh-straight Great Lakes Valley Conference Tournament in the fall of 2002 with a winning record of 16-11. In addition, Wolter was named the Assistant Director of Marketing for the UWP Athletic Department in 2001.
Outside of her responsibilities at UWP, Wolter has nine years of experience with camps in the state of Wisconsin and coached Junior Olympic volleyball with teams such as Wisconsin Power, Milwaukee Sting and Wisconsin Select. In 2002, she took on the role of the Chair of the Badger Region High Performance programs, the entry level program for the USA Volleyball pipeline. This past summer, Wolter earned the high honor of being selected as one of two assistant coaches for the USA Youth National Team. The team traveled to Puerto Rico in early July to compete in the NORCECA Championships. The USA Youth National Team went 4-0 winning the gold medal and a chance to compete in the 2005 Youth World Championships.
In her collegiate career, Wolter was a four-year starter and three-year captain for the Rangers from 1993-96. She was twice named to the All-Conference Academic Team. Also as a student, she was a member of the Student-Athlete Mentor Program and athletic council. Hailing from Waunakee, Wisc. Wolter helped lead her prep team to four consecutive state tournaments, claiming the championship twice. She also competed with the Wisconsin Volleyball Club. Wolter earned a B.S. in business administration from Wisconsin-Parkside with a minor in communications in 1998.
Cost for the HP Select camp is $165
Cost for the HP Youth camp is $165
A $50 deposit must accompany your High Performance Application and Medical Release form.
Even if you already have a medical release form filled out from your club team, you will still need to download this and fill it out.
You will receive an e-mail letting you know if you were one of the first 50 campers to register . If your registration arrives late, your check and forms will be returned to you.
Mail the completed registration form, and the medical release form with your deposit to:
The Arizona Region of USA Volleyball
2105 S. 48 th St. Ste #108
Tempe , AZ 85282-1019
Attn: High Performance CampFor questions, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
We want to hear from YOU!!!
The Arizona Region has put on its website a survey, the purpose of which is to gather information from parents on a variety of topics in an effort to improve the information available to parents, both new and experienced to club sports, when making a decision about which club might be best for their son or daughter.
The Junior Division of the Arizona Region of USA Volleyball is interested in your opinions concerning the type of information that is available to parents prior to the beginning of the season. This survey should only take a few minutes but your participation is key to help make the kinds of changes to continue to improve the Region for all of the members. Please help us by filling out the survey here.
Arizona Region of USA Volleyball
Each month, Quick e Sets will bring you some input from coaches around our region and beyond.
Choosing a Blocking Style: The Conventional Block Versus the Swing Block
By A. Christopher Gonzalez
Chris Gonzalez is in his first season as an assistant volleyball coach at Arizona. He is responsible for court training and position-specific technical training. He also assists in recruiting, travel, preparing opponent scouting reports and camp organization.
For the past decade, Gonzalez has coached some of the best junior, collegiate and international players in the United States and around the world. He began his coaching career in 1995 at Cal Juniors Volleyball Club in Long Beach, Calif. While at Cal Juniors, Gonzalez was the head coach and court trainer for the 18- and 16-and-under Elite programs. During his tenure, Gonzalez trained 18 U.S. Junior Olympic All-American selections, seven Volleyball Magazine "Fab 50" selections (Kristina Baum in 2003) and six Volleyball Magazine High School All-Americans. Teams trained by Gonzalez also captured multiple Southern California Volleyball Association (SCVA) championships including 18- and 16-and-under SCVA national qualifier and regional championships. At the national level, Gonzalez’s teams earned seven U.S. Junior Olympic Open and Club medals including the 1998 18-and-under and 2005 16-and-under U.S. Junior Olympic National Club Championships.
Gonzalez also has experience at the collegiate level. During his five years at Long Beach State, the 49ers reached the NCAA Final Four on four different occasions, culminating in the first undefeated season in NCAA volleyball history in 1998. Gonzalez’s record during his time at Long Beach State was a staggering 134-6, including a 19-3 record in the NCAA Tournament.
Recently more and more collegiate and club teams have started to employ the use of the swing block, coaches have become enamored with scoring quick and easy blocking points and believe the use of this technique can help their teams score more points. Also referred to as “dynamic blocking“, swing blocking was developed to allow stronger, taller male players to generate more force from the ground to jump higher to defend against the potential vertical angles created by those attackers capable of striking the ball at a higher ceiling.
However, one of the major differences between blocking in the men’s game versus the women’s game is that because of their height, strength and jumping ability men are more capable of consuming larger areas along the net in shorter periods of time and can reach over the net faster and farther than most women. Women spend more time pursuing the ball (especially against faster sets) and take longer to elevate from the ground. As a result blocking successfully in the women’s game is often predicated on the ability of the block to front their hitters and place their hands low and over the net. With that said, it is safe to say that the ability square high over the net in the men’s game greatly influences the rate of blocking success, whereas blocking success in the women’s game is more influenced by the ability to defend just above the net because a great number of balls are struck at a much lower ceiling.
At the highest (women’s) levels sets are made with greater horizontal velocity (especially behind the setter) to multiple first tempo attacks which can make the frequent use of the swing block against first tempo sets both impractical and unpredictable. The best teams operate and react with systemic and technical structure and flexibility to the stimuli presented in a given play, the swing block like any other technique or system should be used (appropriately) to defend against specific contextual circumstances.
An effective blocking system in women’s volleyball is one that balances the use of the conventional block to defend against faster attacks and/or sets and multiple hitters and the swing block to defend against higher out-of-system sets (either in front or behind the setter) to increase the number of opportunities to block for points and/or create good deflections.
When To Use The Conventional Style
The conventional style (starting in a semi-flexed, stationary position, with hands in neutral position, a 70 degree ankle bend, jumping straight up) in women’s volleyball is the most effective technique when defending against first tempo sets and sets traveling with greater horizontal speed because it eliminates many of the timing variables between the block and the attacker.
If done can correctly this technique can reduce the space created between the blockers (prior to jumping), can make it easier to adjust to errant sets, and allow peripheral defenders to position themselves around the block more quickly. The conventional technique should be used when the ball has been passed in first-tempo rhythm, when there is the potential for single or multiple first tempo attackers, faster sets behind the setter, and when the set is traveling with greater horizontal speed to outside attackers.
When to Use The Swing Block
The swing block can be broken down into a two or three step approach, in either case the technique begins with an athletic and flexed stance with the arms in a neutral position prepared to pursue the set. It is a single motion maneuver that uses force generated from the ground combined with the swinging energy generated from the hips, shoulders and arms (similar to the attack approach) to elevate the blocker.
The appropriate use of this technique is dependent on the visual and/or contextual information decoded by the blockers after the ball has been passed. After the ball has been passed blockers should collectively decide what type of set the setter is capable of executing, and in the case of an out-of-system play begin pursuit toward the anticipated hitting zone. Those teams choosing to use this style often start in a “bunch” position at the net whereby the two wing attackers and/or setter and the center player begin in the middle of the court and use a series of crossover steps to pursue the ball prior to jumping.
This technique is most effective (in the women’s game) when first tempo sets in front and behind the setter, and faster backcourt attacks are no longer available and the setter if forced to set a ball with greater vertical speed.
Contextual Variables to Consider When Deciding Which Technique is Most Appropriate
The best setters concurrently minimize the number of variables (i.e. inside, trap or wide sets) attackers contend with before striking the ball forcing blockers to deal with a greater number of visual and timing variables prior to jumping to block including: how to defend the dump, accounting for a number of potential attackers, and reacting to the speed and location of the set. Likewise attackers also present a set of variables the block must take into consideration before pursuing the ball and leaving the ground including: how and when they will strike the ball, shoulder angle, how they will use their shoulders and hips to generate power, how they place their hand on the ball, and how they choose to disguise changing speeds or tipping. In both examples control over the variables preceding setter and hitter contact is minimal, thus making the ability to visually predict what type of set can be made combined with choosing and physically executing the appropriate technique the keys to blocking effectively.
Blocking is a skill that yields high levels of unpredictable outcomes because athletes have little contextual and physical control over almost all of the opposition variables prior to contact. Beyond the ability to negotiate all of the variables prior to contact success is dependent upon the rhythm, timing, and spatial relationships of multiple athletes. Needless to say accounting for and decoding the visual and contextual information after the ball has been received is vital.
The most successful men’s teams are cognizant of the context in which using the swing block technique is both prudent and practical. For example, the backcourt “pipe” attack in men’s collegiate and international competition has become a first tempo attack ; using the conventional style allows multiple blockers to minimize the amount of space between each blocker (between the shoulders) the attacker can penetrate. Similarly, in an instance where a received ball is errantly passed to an area of court that forces a setter to set a higher ball to either antennae may prompt blockers to utilize the swing technique because they are afforded ample time (because out-of-system sets generally are set with greater vertical speed) to maneuver along the net and use this technique to form their block.
An Abstract Example: Less is More
When developing a blocking technique or choosing a style for your team the main focus should center around reducing the amount of visual and timing variables prior to leaving the ground. For example, imagine a blocker standing at the net extending her arms (towards the top of the net) with a breadboard in her hands creating a 75-80 degree angle. If we were able to use the breadboard blocking would be considerably easier, we could simply move in front of the attacker with the hips and shoulders square and slide the board across the net just prior to attacker contact. Regardless of how fast the ball is set or when and how the attacker will swing, the chances of blocking the ball are greater because the block has less to negotiate.
Now imagine taking that same breadboard and using a swinging technique to maneuver the board over the net to defend a faster set. In this case the speed and location of the set, how and when the attacker chooses to swing, the shoulder angle of the hitter and several other variables will have to be negotiated to predict the precise timing needed to swing the board (over the net) to seal just prior to contact.
Some Objectives of Each Style
In women’s volleyball blocking higher does not always equate to a greater rate of blocking success. Many points are scored after the ball has made contact with the net; which is a good indication that attackers are not making contact anywhere near what they can reach. With that said, one of the objectives of the conventional style of blocking is to defend a great number of balls that travel low across the net (first red or second white on the antennae) with the shoulders and hips squared to the attacker before the ball is struck. We would all lose track if we attempted to count the number of times a ball has bounced off the net and landed on our side of the court and said “how did that ball not get blocked!” But a great number of college and club athletes strike the ball 4-7 inches above the net and opportunities to block and/or create good deflections are squandered because blockers fail to front their attackers with their shoulders and hips squared to the net securing the area just above the top of the net before contact is made.
One of the other benefits of the conventional style is the potential for multiple blockers to occupy similar areas along the net without creating space between each other. One of the objectives of blocking in general is to eliminate the space between the net and the blockers and the blockers themselves. This is accomplished by making contact with other blockers. The best blockers and blocking teams attempt to limit the amount of space between themselves and the net and themselves with the other blockers by making shoulder and/or hip contact in the air prior to the ball being struck. This eliminates some of the area an attacker can penetrate. The conventional style offers the best chance to eliminate space between the blockers allowing players to create and maintain contact because the athletes begin, adjust, and leave the ground in closer proximity to each other (especially against faster sets) than they would if they were to use a swing block technique. This allows peripheral defenders to make quick and decisive positioning decisions without having to defend the space between the block, thus being able to eliminate some of the potential positioning decisions and/or outcomes if space between the block existed.
In contrast one of the objectives of the swing block is to generate more force off the ground in an effort to increase the vertical speed of the blockers. Simply said it is used to facilitate squaring or fronting the attacker at a higher point over the net. Coaches may also use this technique to allow their players to exercise the use of their own athleticism and/or physical ability, utilizing a more dynamic maneuver in hopes of making contact with the ball that either yields a deflection that is difficult to cover or creating a deflection that can be easily pursued. In either case the attraction remains the potential of blockers to control the net at a higher point.
Another objective of the swing block technique is to keep the hands over the net longer. Using this technique requires the athlete to jump earlier than they might using the conventional style in an effort to force the attacker to make a quicker decision as to where they will attack the ball across the net. This puts the attacker a considerable disadvantage because it allows peripheral backcourt defenders to quickly anticipate the depth at which the ball may arrive in their area of responsibility. Many hitters in the women’s game are not forced to make time-sensitive timing or striking decisions because the hands of the block are not made visually available until long after the direction which the attacker will strike the ball has been decided.
In the men’s game having the hands over the net prior to contact is a pre-requisite to blocking and defending the ball successfully because attackers leave the ground much faster, are in the air for longer periods of time, and are capable of attacking radical angles.
If all attackers hit the ball with a predictable and/or technically correct armswing, consistently approached the ball with the same rhythm and speed, and always attacked the angle they were facing, the swing block would be the most effective style because blockers would not have to negotiate any variables prior to contact and it would allow them to intercept the ball at a higher point. Unfortunately, most attackers do not hit the ball with the same rhythm and speed, many have unpredictable armswings; and as a result attackers strike the ball in a variety of spatial windows which makes efficiently and effectively penetrating the net a difficult proposition. This is why so few balls are blocked during a match.
When deciding which style to teach first evaluate the physical ability of your athletes to perform the maneuvers needed to execute the desired style successfully including: footwork patterns, ability to coordinate the upper and lower body levers, and the ability of multiple athletes to efficiently move in sync. Second evaluate their ability to visually recognize and react to specific contextual stimuli by placing the athletes in a controlled environment where they can be trained to predict the potential outcomes of a variety of plays. Finally, decide on which style or technique your team will use to defend a particular type of set or circumstance.
Remember that each style can produce positive results if used with conservation and practicality. The key to an effective blocking technique and/or system like any other skill or system is predicated on a team’s ability to operate with balance, structure, and flexibility.
The Arizona Region has scheduled an IMPACT recertification clinic in conjunction with the High Performance Camp scheduled June 2-4th.
Coaches will be shown the training and technique used at the National team levels by High Performance National Youth Team Coaches Erikka Gulbranson and Melissa Wolter.
The clinic will be on Saturday, June 3rd from 12:30- 2 p.m. and Sunday, June 4th from 12:30-3 p.m. In the off time, coaches may be asked to observe and even participate. The cost for the four hour clinic is $60 which included a Kaepa coach’s polo shirt.
Only 24 coaches will be accepted into this clinic. If you are not sure of your IMPACT status and need to know if you are due for recertification next season, contact the region office by e-mail.To register, go on the region website at www.azregionvolleyball.org and click on the Coaches Corner tab at the top of the page.
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