Monday, August 25, 2014

Deb's Top-5 to Win it all in 2014

by Deb Kniffin

Parents have bid farewell to their student-athletes. Players have moved back to their respective campuses. Gear has been distributed. Media day photos have been snapped. Player bios have been updated online. Training sessions have begun. The first matches of the 2014 NCAA DI Women’s Volleyball season are just days away. And I can’t wait.

For those of you new to the blog, my name is Debbie Kniffin (formerly Stadick). I am entering my second year as the chief women’s volleyball blogger for the AVCA and will spend the next four months providing a smattering of my top-5 matches to watch each week, along with my opinionated analysis and outcome predictions.

Before competition starts and I dive into weekly previews and predictions, I want to do a kick-off post highlighting five teams to watch all season. Mainly because I think one of them will be hoisting the trophy in December.

It should come as no surprise that this historic volleyball program is on my list of teams to watch. Their 2013 and 2014 incoming classes featured a total of fifteen new players, but instead of rebuilding, Nebraska posted a 26-7 record and advanced to the NCAA Regional Finals.

Six of seven starters return to the court this fall, and three of the six returning players garnered All-American accolades (Kadie Rolfzen/third team, Meghan Haggerty/honorable mention and Mary Pollmiller/honorable mention). This 2014 squad features young, experienced, talented players. That’s a deadly trifecta.

In addition to having the right personnel, Nebraska competes in the Big Ten, faces quality competition on a weekly basis and knows what it takes to win. Given those factors, I think Nebraska has a legitimate shot at a national title.

Red Box Pixtures
After falling in the NCAA Semifinals in front of a roaring home crowd, Washington will undoubtedly be hungry to claim the title this season.

A slew of upperclassmen will lead the charge, including AVCA Player of the Year/First Team All-American Krista Vansant and Third Team All-American Kaleigh Nelson.

If you didn’t have the opportunity to watch Vansant last season, you missed out. Her consistent level of play and ability to carry her team were inspiring. And that was during her junior year. I can’t wait to see what she does on her senior campaign.

Vansant will have five other returning starters around her. I think it’s fair to say Washington will be a formidable force. Rest assured: if Washington falls before the final match of the season, it will be with everything left on the court.

PSU Athletics
Defending national champions, the Nittany Lions return arguably the most potent setter in the NCAA. Micha Hancock’s blistering jump serve, in-control court presence and gutsy performances are fun to watch. More importantly, they get the job done.

I think we can count on Hancock to effectively run the court for Penn State and help new players phase into the starting line-up. It’ll be necessary, because Penn State loses a trio of All-Americans (Katie Slay, Deja McClendon and Ariel Scott).

It isn’t just Hancock that puts this team on the map in 2014, though. It’s her supporting cast (read: hot hitters, feisty defenders and highly esteemed coaches) and the program’s winning tradition (read: ridiculous buy-in, lofty expectations and multiple national titles) that will make this squad tough to topple. There’s a lot to be said for playing with unbridled confidence.

Ten underclassmen highlight this USC squad, but I don’t think their youth will hold them down. Their incoming class is highly ranked, and the returning players hold key roles that will be critical to this group finding their rhythm and winning big matches.

Second Team All-American Samantha Bricio and First Team All-American Ebony Nwanebu are back after combining for almost half of the team’s total kills last season. Half of their setting tandem returns in Hayley Crone. Consistency in these key positions should speed up the learning curve for the fresh talent in the Trojans’ gym.

Like Washington, USC competes in one of the top conferences in the nation: the Pac-12. Their grueling conference schedule should amply prepare them for the final stretch of the season. I think the other teams on this list are more talented than USC position by position. But when it comes to hoisting the trophy, you don’t have to be the most talented team position by position. You have to be talented enough. USC will definitely talented enough. So let’s see what happens, shall we?

The Longhorns are unique from the other programs making my list. Unlike Penn State and Nebraska or Washington and USC, Texas competes in the Big 12. While the Big 12 is a respectable volleyball conference (according to this Iowa State alum), it doesn’t come close to breaching the competitive level of the Big Ten or Pac-12.

Yet, despite their less challenging schedule and lack of opportunity to be pushed on the court during conference play, Texas manages to stay on the national radar and contend for titles each season. Maybe it’s because they coast through conference play and head into the tournament healthy and rested, unlike most other national contenders. Maybe it’s because they train like crazy people all season long. Maybe it’s because their athletes are just that talented. Maybe it’s a little bit of all the above.

Either way. I don’t see this changing in 2014. The Longhorns once again feature an athletic roster, including six significant contributors from last year’s NCAA Semifinals squad. My money is on them to win it all.

That’s all for now, volleyball fans. I’ll see you next week when we starting diving into my Top-5 matches to watch!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Advanced Beach Volleyball Strategies, Routes and Blocking Calls

by Andor Gyulai, Founder and Owner of Volleyball 1on1

This video features advanced beach volleyball strategy and demos from some of the top players in the world including Kerri Walsh, April Ross, Casey Patterson, Emanual Rego and Alison.  Viewers will learn new ways on running both offense and defensive strategy as well as learn easy to use, applicable ideas to see results on the beach.

Visit for similar coaching videos, tips, instruction and drills.  Enjoy!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

New Solutions / Science to Solving Common Volleyball Injuries Including Knee, Back, Shoulder, and Ankle Injuries

by Andor Gyulai, Founder and Owner of Volleyball 1on1

If you are like me, you are constantly looking for better ways to deal with knee and back pain from playing and coaching volleyball. At 38 approaching 40 and looking to play in the Olympics, I knew I needed to find new solutions for dealing with common patellar tendonitis (Jumpers knee) and back pain. 

Well new advancements in the science of taping may offer solutions to these plus other common volleyball injuries. A new tape called bio-mechanic tape has just hit the market, and this tape acts like a bungee cord tied to the body. This means the tape on your body can be used to absorb and create load, thus having huge impacts when jumping, spiking, blocking, or aggressively moving in volleyball.

This is different than any tape on the market and applied differently than kinesio tape or athletic tape. If you are a player, coach, or trainer, this is an incredible new tool that offers allot of new solutions when dealing with volleyball. Click the Link to see more videos and uses of Dynamic Tape.

As a volleyball player you know how much patellar tendonitis and osgood-schlatter hurts. In this video we share an easy to use taping technique that will reduce load on the knee and significantly reduce pain for most people.

In the next video we discuss taping techniques to help with back pains from playing volleyball. This simple technique covers many of the most common back pain problems and will help reduce load on the back while playing.

In this video we discuss an easy taping technique for volleyball shoulder injuries. What we like about this technique is that it is useful for a wide variety of pains and aliments as well as is easy enough for parents coaches and other players to do.

The science of the human bodies has changed dramatically for the better in the last few years and so have the tool. This tape is completely unique to traditional athletic tape or kinesiology tape. This tape has an elastic capacity well in excess of 200% as well as it stretches in all directions unlike kineso tape which only stretches in two directions. This ability to stretch / create and absorb load means it can be used in a number of capacities including injury prevention and changing movement mechanics.

To see more videos and uses of Dynamic Tape – Bio Tape for Volleyball click the link.


Friday, June 20, 2014

New Tool To Improve Volleyball Technique and Reduce Volleyball Injuries – Bio Mechanic Tape

by Andor Gyulai, Founder and Owner of Volleyball 1on1

The science of the human bodies has changed dramatically for the better in the last few years and so have the tool. This week we want to highlight a new type of tape that offers new ways to help volleyball players reduce volleyball injuries and improve volleyball technique / form.

This tape is completely unique to traditional athletic tape or kinesiology tape. This tape has an elastic capacity well in excess of 200% as well as it stretches in all directions unlike kineso tape which only stretches in two directions. What this means is the tape can be used like a spring or bungee cord to create and absorb load during athletic movement.

This ability to create and absorb load means it can be used in a number of capacities including injury prevention and changing movement mechanics.

In this video the bio mechanic tape (Dynamic Tape) is used to alter the form of a volleyball player and help teach the player to use more trunk or hips while spiking. As most coaches know trunk rotation / hips is crucial to avoiding volleyball injuries of the shoulder as the muscles can deliver large amounts of force when spiking while reducing the amount of stress on the joints as compared to a player who mainly uses shoulder muscles for power.

Volleyball1on1 has filmed other corrective uses of dynamic tape for improving spiking technique including videos for jumping, trunk stability, opening up the shoulders back to create space to encourage trunk rotation forward and a video for correcting late cocking when spiking.

Other more traditional uses of the tape are for the creation and absorption of load. Because of the elastic or bungee nature of the tape many traditional impact injuries associated with volleyball can be quickly dealt with. Also for more experienced trainers bio tape gives you a new tool you only dreamed of for helping your volleyball athletes.

To see more videos and uses of Dynamic Tape – Bio Tape for Volleyball click the link.


Friday, June 13, 2014

Seven Camera Volleyball Video Demo can Help Improve Motor Skill Learning on Beach Defense

by Andor Gyulai, Founder and Owner of Volleyball 1on1

LAWS OF LEARNING: “I hear I forget, I see I remember, I do I understand” - Chinese Proverb

Motor learning studies have found that movement information is retained in memory in the form of an image. Given this, video demonstrations are a great way to provide the images and accelerate motor learning of volleyball skills.

This week Volleyball1on1 added some new resources for the volleyball community in the form of never before done seven camera angle volleyball video demos. These videos offer a completely new way for players and coaches to consume important fundamentals regarding volleyball skills and technique.

This video features a top AVP Beach Volleyball Pro putting on a skills defensive clinic for the viewers. If you like old school volleyball and enjoy watching some of the greats like Sinjin Smith and Mike Dodd, you are going to love this video.

What we find impressive is movement patterns she uses. Also by filming this from multiple angles and slowing down the play it does not take long for views, be that players or coaches to understand the motor skills needed and thus be able to implement them for themselves.

Volleyball1on1 is in the process of adding and extensive library of volleyball demonstration, how to videos. Most will be filmed with multiple cameras and edited in regular and slow motion in order to help viewers really grasp some tough skills.

From what we have seen so far we think this is going to be a major resources for the volleyball community at large. 

Click Here – For more beach volleyball demo skill videos. This includes videos on passing, setting, spiking, serving, blocking, defense, all the beach shots and much more. Also videos by many top Olympians like Kerri Walsh Jennings, April Ross, Phil Dalhausser, Sean Rosenthal to name just a few. Enjoy!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Learn the only volleyball shot that is named after a player, The Steino named after UCLA Sand Coach Stein Metzger

by Andor Gyulai, Founder and Owner of Volleyball 1on1

This week Volleyball1on1 has added a great new beach volleyball coaching video with Olympian and current UCLA Sand Coach Stein Metzger. Stein has coached over 200 AVP and FIVB players and has won on both the AVP and FIVB.

In this video Stein shares a volleyball shot he made famous, “The Steino.” As far as we know this is the only shot in volleyball named after a player.

Volleyball1on1 produced and filmed these coaching videos with Stein to offer new insights, secrets and verbal coaching cues for volleyball coaching. Visit to access their full library of almost 2000 volleyball coaching videos, drills and practice plans for beach and indoor volleyball.

Additionally: Click Here – To see Stein Full Series on Indoor Volleyball Setting! Stein was a 3 Time NCAA Champion and NCAA MVP as starting Setter at UCLA.