Thursday, September 30, 2010

On-Line Social Networking Promotion Creates “Off-Line” Awareness

By Phil Bush

By now, I realize many teams have jumped on board with Social Media, including Facebook pages, Twitter Feeds, and other areas. I applaud all of these moves, as it will help your program by increasing awareness, and keeping “on the radar” of the casual fan. Make no mistake: Social Networking is very important to that casual observer- who has a lot of choices to make about whether to be interested in your program or something else that may take his or her attention. The hardcore fan thinks all of this is unnecessary as he/she is out there every match anyway, and doesn’t know why more people are not!

However, this column is about Promotion and Production, so let me try to keep my eye on THAT ball!

I heard about a little crazy promotion involving LSU Volleyball Coach Fran Flory. Essentially, here’s what happened: The Marketing Department at LSU convinced Coach Flory stay in an RV on the grounds of LSU until the Volleyball Program went from 200 Twitter followers to 500 Twitter followers.

Now, to say that this was a brilliant move is an understatement. As of 9/22, according to LSU Marketing Coordinator Daniel Nunes, the Tiger Volleyball Program has over 1000 Twitter Followers! So, what happened? Well, first Daniel and the Marketing folks talked Coach Flory into it! As Fran said to me: “You have to be willing to think outside the box, or live inside an RV, to truly entertain your followers!”

So, the RV was arranged for, and this is where the fun REALLY began. Because this was something that had not been done before, people were naturally curious. Daniel talked about what they did: “We put the RV right in front of Portal A at the Stadium, so it was very visible. We had a big inflatable Volleyball up, we had an inflatable Kids Pool, and we created an atmosphere.” The rest of the Athletic Department got involved as well. “Football Coach Les Miles and Baseball Coach Paul Maniere came to visit and brought Fran lunch on different days.” For those of you who don’t know, Football in the SEC is bigger than just about Anything, so when an SEC Football Coach gets involved, it becomes news. The local TV stations picked up on the Promotion. Fans came out to visit. Daniel added: “We also made some things up as we went- it was when Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees was going for his 600th Home Run. We started talking on line about getting to 600 Twitter Followers before Alex got to 600 home runs.”

It also got into the Community. The Mayor East Baton Rouge declared one of the Days “Fran Flory Day,” which was also picked up by the local media.

This is a superb example of what you can if you think “outside the box” or “Inside the RV” as Coach Flory says. From Fran: “Our campaign to enhance our social media following has been one of the most well received things we have ever done. The ability to keep our followers engaged with our program with more than just match results has greatly enhanced the interest level in our team here in our community and beyond. I feel that this step at LSU has allowed us to capitalize on the entertainment value of collegiate sports.”

Fran has clearly taken a hands-on approach here. I salute the Marketing Department of LSU for coming up with a great idea to get the Volleyball program a higher profile. The beauty of most Social Networking promotions is that they are not a super high cost item. The other reason these are SO important is that the “Casual” fan who is not thinking about Volleyball got hit with the LSU Volleyball Program in multiple ways:

*Twitter Campaign
*TV Stations in Baton Rouge
*Other Sports that tied in from LSU

So the odds of them finding out something about LSU Volleyball went up drastically.

Let me close with why these kinds of campaigns are so important right now, and it again, comes from Coach Flory: “It's not just wins and losses anymore that will keep your program moving forward." Fran is ABSOLUTELY on target. Creating this type of awareness is what it takes in order to really get your fan base continually energized. Awareness creates energy, which sparks more Attendance, which sparks a greater advantage at home court, which sparks more wins- I think you all get the picture!!!

I salute Daniel Nunes and Fran Flory for being willing to think “Inside the RV” for a great campaign!

(Phil Bush will be Blogging from time to time over the fall on Promotion/Production of Volleyball. Follow his thoughts at as well.)

Monday, September 27, 2010

A Look At The Weekend (Sept. 24-26) – And What’s Up Next

By Jen Armson-Dyer

Illinois Halts Penn State’s Big Ten-Record Win Streak
It was a weekend for five-game matches with huge conference title implications despite the calendar only reading September. Friday night in front of a standing-room-only crowd of 4,141, No. 9 Illinois ended No. 2 Penn State’s 65-match Big Ten win streak, the longest in conference history, in five games (17-25, 25-14, 25-19, 14-25, 17-15). Junior outside hitter Colleen Ward led four Illini players in double digit kills with 16 as senior outside hitter Laura DeBruler, junior outside hitter Michelle Bartsch and senior middle hitter Johannah Bangert all provided 11 kills. Freshman libero Jennifer Bonilla picked up 19 of Illinois’ 70 team digs, with four other players reaching at least 10 digs. Bangert also led the blocking front with nine stuffs. "We know we are a good enough team to compete with Penn State and any team in the country," said senior setter Hillary Haen, who tallied 54 assists and 10 digs. "But it takes giving it everything we have and I am most proud of our effort."

Oregon Ends Drought Against Washington
No. 15 Oregon ended a 10-year home losing streak to No. 7 Washington with a four-game win (25-20, 13-25, 25-20, 30-28), which also halted 12 straight sweeps by the Huskies over the Ducks. Sophomore outside hitter Alaina Bergsma led Oregon with 21 kills on .559 hitting while sophomore outside hitter Katherine Fischer posted 15 kills and senior outside hitter Heather Meyers added 14 kills. Sophomore libero Haley Jacob picked up a team-high 17 digs while Bergsma and freshman middle hitter Ariana Williams each recorded four blocks. “I couldn’t be happier for our players,” Oregon head coach Jim Moore said. “This week I preached how we had to be disciplined and composed, and except for the second set, we were. Alaina (Bergsma) was the difference - she was awesome all night long against one of the best defensive teams in the country. We knew we had to play well tonight as a team, because they’re very good, and they made us earn it.”

Michigan Takes Down Minnesota
The No. 22 Wolverines climbed out of a two game hole to defeat No. 14 Minnesota in five games (12-25, 23-25, 25-22, 25-23, 16-14) to remain undefeated in the Big Ten. Junior outside hitter Alex Hunt dominated the Gophers with a career-high 28 kills as sophomore opposite Claire McElheny pounded 15 kills on .464 hitting with only two errors. Senior setter Lexi Zimmerman, who became the all-time leader in career assists at Michigan, posted a double-double with 60 assists and a match-high 21 digs while junior libero Sloane Dunhoff chipped in 16 digs and Hunt added 11. Freshman middle hitter Jennifer Cross and freshman outside hitter Molly Toon both notched three blocks for the Wolverines. "I think we learned a lot about our team,” said Michigan head coach Mark Rosen. “A lot of it is just the ability to compete. When you have your back against the wall and not give up. To have the courage and the self image to be able to get better as the match goes on. I am proud of them. We had our back against the wall pretty big, and we have had that situation a few times this season and we keep finding a way to pull it out. I think we are starting to believe a little bit."

Auburn Tops Kentucky
Auburn defeated No. 24 Kentucky Friday night in five games (25-27, 25-16, 20-25, 25-17, 15-12) marking the first time the Tigers have defeated a ranked opponent and the first time since 2006 that Auburn has defeated Kentucky. Sophomore outside hitters Sarah Bullock and Katherine Culwell both picked up double-doubles for the Tigers, with Bullock posting 11 kills and 12 digs, and Culwell notching 12 kills and 11 digs. Senior outside hitter Morgan Johns and freshman outside hitter Camila Jersonsky each added in 11 kills while senior libero Liz Crouch led the squad with 13 digs. Bullock and senior middle hitter Alyssa Davis also posted four blocks apiece to lead the team. "This is a program-building win for us," head coach Wade Benson said. "It is a step in the right direction and gives us great confidence.”

Ball State Pulls Out Win At Northern Illinois
In the Mid-American Conference opener for both squads, Ball State battled back to win the final two games of the match to claim the victory (25-20, 18-25, 17-25, 25-23, 16-14) over Northern Illinois. Junior middle hitter Kelsey Brandl led four players in double-digit kills with 19 on .567 hitting while freshman outside hitter Whitney Heeres recorded 13 kills, freshman outside hitter Kylee Baker posted 11 and junior middle hitter Jennifer Boyd chipped in 10. Senior Alyssa Rio provided the Cardinals with 28 of their 80 team digs and Brandl and freshman Jacqui Seidel topped the team with three blocks. "It was an incredible match tonight," said Ball State head coach Steve Shondell. "The team showed tremendous guts, heart and character while willing their way to victory. It was one of the most amazing comebacks I have been involved with as a coach, and a great team win over a tough NIU squad. Tonight was one of the greatest matches I have coached at any level."

Wisconsin-Milwaukee Halts Cleveland State’s 10-Match Winning Streak
In a battle of two squads picked to finish atop the Horizon league standings, Wisconsin-Milwaukee claimed a thrilling five-game victory (22-25, 31-29, 25-18, 24-26, 18-16) over Cleveland State, who at one point held a 14-10 lead in the fifth game. Sophomore outside hitter Elizabeth Egerer pounded 18 kills for the Panthers while junior outside hitter Mary Beth O’Brien and senior middle hitter Natalie Schmitting both posted 15 kills. Four players reached double-digit digs, led by junior Morgan Potter with 18, while Schmitting and junior Kerri Schuh both dominated at the net, recording nine blocks apiece and aiding UW-Milwaukee in racking up 19.0 team blocks for the match. “I’d say that is a huge win,” said Panther head coach Susie Johnson. “We really had to collect ourselves and come back in set five. We were down 14-10 and we came back. That’s character, and it took guts from our players and I’m so proud of them. I just can’t even believe how great that match was.”

Other Notable Matches:
- Georgia defeated No. 20 Tennessee in five games (25-17, 25-23, 19-25, 25-27, 15-10), led by Brittany Northcutt with 15 kills.
- South Florida claimed a big Big East wins over previously undefeated Syracuse (25-22, 17-25, 25-12, 22-25, 15-6), led by Allie Boaz with 15 kills.
- Fresno State defeated Boise State in five games (19-25, 29-27, 21-25, 25-23, 15-7) led by a season-high 18 kills on .444 hitting from junior Brianna Clarke.
- Seton Hall downed Louisville in five games (25-20, 25-21, 19-25, 17-25, 15-13) as senior Sarah Osmun broke the school record for career kills with 21, giving her 1,384 for her career.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Volleyball and TV

By Kathy DeBoer

There are more than 100 college volleyball matches on television this fall, a higher number than ever before. The reason is quite simple: inventory availability. The huge success of the ESPN family of channels and the more recent ‘money-printing’ Big Ten Network has lead to a proliferation of dedicated sports channels. Further, the cable-inspired business plan of financing programming via household subscriptions rather than specific program advertising has allowed a lot of niche sports, minor conferences, and one-off events a window of air time. If the much anticipated Pac 12 and Texas Longhorn networks become realities we will see even more hours of inventory looking for sports to televise.

All of this is good for college volleyball and other sports that have struggled to ‘pay the rent’ in an advertising-anchored marketplace. While the cost of production is still an issue, volleyball lends itself quite nicely to a three-camera production: the area to cover is contained, the game moves quickly, and the emotional drama is high. These three factors make volleyball an attractive, relatively economical alternative to reruns and endless coaches’ shows.

Our challenge during this period of increased exposure is to turn casual sports fans into volleyball fans and to convince channel surfers to stay engaged. Our short run exposure will only be long run success if it leads to more spectators at our matches and more viewers of our broadcasts. As lovers of volleyball we have insisted that exposure is the key to our success in the spectator marketplace: if people understood our game better, we argued, they would learn to love it. We now have the chance to test that hypothesis.

We must prepare for the fact that an increased in exposure is generally accompanied by a decrease in control. If you don’t believe me, ask your football or basketball coach. Already we have a west coast commissioner lobbying for a season-ending tourney so he can sell the event into a large television marketplace; we have broadcasters begging for more predictable timeouts for commercial breaks; we now hear a chorus of requests that we move the first referee to the scorer’s table side of the court. When administrators start thinking about volleyball as an asset as opposed to a liability, they will tinker with rules, dictate schedules and question established habits.

Will we be open to playing on weeknights to avoid home football games? How will we react to decreased rest and preparatory time? Are we ready to reconsider our practice of having our substitutes stand in front of the best seats in the house? Can we adjust to the disrupted rhythm caused by holding the serve for a televised replay? How will we develop a cadre of capable, engaging, television personalities who both teach and entertain?

This is what we have always wanted; let us not turn a deaf ear to our new advocates or a blind eye to our new opportunities.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Another Missed Opportunity

By Terry Pettit

My first cell phone was Motorola bag phone that had the heft and design features of a brick. It was 1995 and I made three calls for the year while receiving none. I didn’t memorize the number and I certainly didn’t give it out. The last thing I wanted was to have someone call me when I was recruiting or fly-fishing.

I thought about that last week as our family considered the options available today, particularly smart phones like the iphone --and the droid. Anne and I had deliberately not upgraded our phones in three years so that when our daughter’s two-year contract was in synch with ours, we could consider other cell phone plans, in particular ATT, which has a monopoly on the iphone.

I have had several people tell me, with a countenance not unlike lighting a cigarette following sex, that they believe the iphone is mankind’s greatest invention. Now to be sure none of these people lived during a plague, polio outbreak, or had personal family members who were part of the Donner party, but even so, their enthusiasm seemed to make their lack of perspective almost endearing.

When I ask them why they believe an iphone is a more significant achievement than a Porsche Speedster or a Mizuno seven iron, two inventions that I am particularly fond of, they inevitably respond, because the iphone already has a hundred and forty thousand applications that have been developed for it.

Beyond (yawn), GPS, calendar, camera and recording features are cleaver options I never would have thought of (at least after eighth grade). There is an ifart application. There is a dog whistle and an application you can click to hear your favorite Star Wars character say a signature phrase. Before you finish reading this someone will have created an application that sounds like Spock farting while dog whistling at the same time.

There are dating applications for cross dressers searching for transvestite crane operators. There are applications that can translate your dog’s barking into Portuguese. Should you be bitten by a black mamba there is an application that tells you the five most important things to do. Number 5 is to bend over and put your head between your legs and kiss your sweet ass goodbye but only after naming who will inherit your iphone in the i-am-about-to-die application.

So how much would it cost to be able get a device that could reserve a table for four at the L'Esguard restaurant in Sant Andreu de Llavaneres, Spain, where what one iphone blogger had what she called the worst meal in memory?

I could trade in my customized Sprint Samsung with duct tape holding in the battery (I call it my Samsung Urban Model) for an entry-level iphone for $200 plus an extra $15 a month for a data plan that would allow me to become more self absorbed and introverted, especially in public spaces or across the dinner table. For the three of us (i-abacus please) the total would be $600 plus $45 a month for the life of the plan plus a one-time upgrade of $25, and the slight inconvenience of not being able to call anyone in a major American city between the four in the morning and eleven o’clock at night because the call was likely to be dropped because so many iphone users are using the I-stand-by-me application which offers opinions on whether or not Goofy is a dog or who would win in a battle between a gorilla and a python.

Which raises an interesting question? Could a python digest a Motorola bag phone? Unfortunately I don’t know the answer because there is only one place that might offer an opinion, and unfortunately I decided on a more modest upgrade to an LG Remarq which only cost me fifty bucks, if you count the hundred dollar rebate which should show up before the next comet named after a female president lights up the evening sky.

Terry Pettit – author of Talent and the Secret Life of Teams @ www.

Monday, September 20, 2010

A Look At The Weekend (Sept. 17-19) – And What’s Up Next

By Jen Armson-Dyer

Cincinnati Takes Down The Big Ten
The Bearcats came out of the weekend with two huge wins over Big Ten opponents, upsetting No. 5 Illinois in five games (22-25, 19-25, 25-20, 25-16, 15-13) before sweeping Purdue (26-24, 25-22, 25-20) to claim the title at the Big East/Big Ten Challenge. Cincinnati senior outside hitter Stephanie Niemer, the tournament MVP, led the squad with 28 kills against Illinois and added 32 more versus Purdue, with those coming on .453 hitting. The Fighting Illini, who were without senior AVCA All-America outside hitter Laura DeBruler due to mono, claimed the first two games of the match on Friday night before the Bearcats stormed back to claim the next three, sparked by a five-point run to capture the third game. Versus the Boilermakers on Saturday, Niemer scored 36 of the team’s 57.5 total points to carry the team to the win.

San Diego Rallies Past No. 12 Minnesota
The 23rd-ranked Toreros used a pair of 20-kill performances from senior Ashton Basch and Amy DeGroot to rally back from a two-game deficit to rally past No. 12 Minnesota in five games (24-26, 23-25, 27-25, 25-18, 17-15) Saturday afternoon in San Diego. DeGroot added 19 digs for her fifth double-double of the season while Ali Troost chipped in 18 kills and 15 digs for her first double-double of the year. In all, the Toreros outkilled (77-55) and outdug (91-74) the Golden Gophers, but Minnesota claimed the blocking battle 14.0 to 5.0. C’era Oliveira led five San Diego players in double-digit digs with 23. The Toreros also claimed wins over San Diego State (3-1) and UC Santa Barbara (3-0) to come out a perfect 3-0 on the weekend.

Delaware Tops Notre Dame, Santa Clara
The Blue Hens fought back from being down two games to upset Notre Dame in five games (18-25, 22-25, 26-24, 25-17, 15-11) Friday night. Delaware fought off four match points in the third game before rallying to claim six straight points to take the game at 26-24. Three Blue Hen players reached double digit kills against the Fighting Irish, including junior outside hitter Kim Stewart with 14, senior outside hitter Katie Dennehy with 12 and senior middle hitter Paige Erickson with 11, while senior libero Greta Gibboney paced the defense with 32 of the team’s 91 digs. Following a 3-0 loss to Dayton, Delaware bounced back to topple Santa Clara in five games (18-25, 25-23, 25-22, 20-25, 15-10) on Sunday. Against the Broncos, Dennehy and sophomore outside hitter Alissa Aiker led the squad with 17 kills apiece while Steward posted 13 kills. Gibboney led five Blue Hen player in double-digit digs with 28. Stewart and Gibboney both earned all-tournament laurels at the Notre Dame/adidas Invitational.

Middle Tennessee State Knocks Off No. 24 Long Beach State
The Blue Raiders fought to hold on to a two-game lead on the 24th-ranked 49ers, claiming a five-game victory (25-23, 25-9, 20-25, 20-25, 17-15). The match marked Middle Tennessee’s first win over a ranked opponent since defeating ninth-ranked Hawaii in the Second Round of the 2007 NCAA Tournament. Sophomore outside hitter Ashley Adams led four Blue Raider players in kills with 16 as Junior middle hitter Lindsay Cheatham posted 13 kills on .524 hitting and senior outside hitter Izabela Kozon and junior middle hitter Stacy Oladinni added in 12 and 11 kills, respectively. Cheatham and Oladinni both recorded six blocks as freshman setter Angela Peyton directed the offense with 47 assists and added in five blocks. Junior libero Brynne Henderson led the defense with 14 digs. The Blue Raiders also captured wins over Denver (3-0) and Virginia Commonwealth (3-0) and has now won their last seven matches.

Campbell Defeats NC State, 3-1
The Campbell University Fighting Camels handed North Carolina State just its second loss of the season in four games (25-22, 22-25, 27-25, 25-14) Saturday in Wilmington, N.C. Senior outside hitter Allyson Goldbach led Campbell with 15 kills on .480 hitting while also adding 13 digs and four service aces in the complete effort. Senior outside hitter Emily Werner and sophomore outside hitter Jordan Reaves added in eight and seven kills, respectively, as junior libero Kelsey Campbell also produced 13 digs in the winning effort. Senior middle hitter Caitlin Bendy led the blocking front with five stuffs. Campbell also defeated Elon (3-1) on Friday night before falling at UNC Wilmington (3-1) Saturday evening.

Michigan Wins Arizona State Sheraton Tournament
Junior outside hitter Alex Hunt recorded 23 kills and four service aces to aid No. 21 Michigan in a four game victory (16-25, 25-11, 25-19, 25-19) over Pacific Saturday at Arizona State. It was Hunt’s third straight match with at least 20 kills, with her 23 against the Tigers coming on .488 hitting. Junior libero Sloane Donhoff paced the defense with 16 digs as Hunt also led the squad with four blocks. The Wolverines also defeated Utah and Arizona State in four games to capture the tournament title. For her efforts, Hunt was named the MVP of the tournament and also picked up Big Ten Player of the Week honors.

Next Up
This week marks the start of conference play for most everyone in the country and a few of the matchups have league title implications right off the bat. No. 5 Illinois plays host to No. 2 Penn State at Huff Hall in Champaign, Ill. While the Nittany Lions’ NCAA-record 109-match win streak is no longer intact, Penn State still has its conference streak going strong. The Nittany Lions’ last loss in the Big Ten was at Ohio State on Nov. 8, 2006 in three games, which was 64 matches ago.

Another big conference tilt will be Dayton at Saint Louis. The Flyers and the Billikins have battled for the last two Atlantic 10 titles and the automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament. Dayton heads into the weekend with an overall record of 9-3 while Saint Louis holds a 5-7 mark.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Volleyball and Injuries

by Kathy DeBoer

It’s August 28, the opening Saturday of the season, Iowa State leads Florida 12-8 in the first set. Rachel Hockaday, the preseason All-Big 12 outside hitter, goes up to attack a routine set at the pin and lands on the same left leg that she has landed on 10,000 times in her volleyball career. This time the knee buckles and she collapses on the floor.

Even thought there are more than 3000 people in the stands, the arena is silent. Friend and foe alike voicelessly attempt to pray her to her feet. The Iowa State trainer hurries to Rachel’s side, bending close to her face, asking for ‘where’ and ‘what’. Florida coach Mary Wise motions her players to the sideline, purposefully turning their attention away from where Rachel is writhing in quiet agony on the floor. Iowa State coach Christy Johnson-Lynch motions for a sub, and then makes that heartbreaking walk across the court that coaches dread and almost all have made. She squats beside Rachel and gently touches her arm. A manager is waved over and Rachel is hoisted onto her functional leg. As she leaves the court balanced between the trainer and the manager, the crowd breaks into that saddest of applause reserved for those we know will not return.

Our throats are tight. If we didn’t see the knee move on the landing, we saw it on the replay- that nauseating, momentary dislocation. Even as amateurs, we know it is bad. The next day we get confirmation: ACL - the athletics shorthand for anterior cruciate ligament tear.

Ironically, the day of the Hockaday injury, Dr. Bill Briner, chair of USAV’s Sports Medicine Commission, had sent me an injury prevention article for our next issue of Coaching Volleyball magazine*. As serious as Rachel’s injury was, many of the numbers regarding major injuries to athletes favored volleyball in comparison to other sports.

The data, compiled by the NCAA in a report called the Injury Surveillance System (ISS), identified the three injuries that most frequently cause student-athletes to miss more than 10 days of a season - ankle ligament sprains, concussions, and anterior cruciate ligament injuries (ACL). Women’s volleyball has the second lowest incident rate, bested only by softball, among the 15 team sports in the survey. In the ACL category also, the .09 times per 1000 athlete-exposures is significantly lower than women’s soccer (.28), women’s basketball (.23), or women’s lacrosse (.17)

While all this is good news, the ISS data also confirmed that the rate of ACL’s among female athletes is 3 to 4 times higher than for male athletes in the same sport. Combine this statistic with the fact that volleyball has the highest ‘jump rate’ of any sport, a second risk factor for leg injuries, and we have strong incentives to pay attention to the training of jumping and landing. And, if the statistics are not sufficient to convince us, avoiding ‘that walk’ to comfort an injured player should provide all the motivation we need.

*See the October/November issue of Coaching Volleyball for Dr. Briner’s article and a full discourse on injury prevention

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Marketing Your Program - Constant Contact and Group Participation

by Phil Bush

It’s early in the season and many schools are either just getting rolling or are in their Pre-Conference part of their schedule. I wanted to hit on 2 themes:

1. Constant Contact: Being “On The Radar” of your potential Attendees on an on-going basis. This means using Social Media- Facebook, Twitter, and any other means to be on people’s minds

2. Group Participation: Targeting Groups to build on your attendance. By Focusing on Groups in your Community, you give those groups a chance to do something together.

I wanted to give you some examples from 2 different programs:

From Lynette Moster, 1st year Head Coach of the Division III Olivet Comets, she writes: “My marketing for the season is whatever I can do with NO MONEY. For my home matches, I have "themes". Such as:

• "9/11-Patriot Day" where we honor our soldiers, military, etc.
• "Red Out" where all Olivet fans must wear their red t-shirts.
• "Faculty Appreciation" where our players invite their professors to be recognized at the match.
• "Halloween Costume Party" on Halloween with a pumpkin carving contest.
• "Homecoming-Alumni Appreciation"
• "Dig Pink"

“These themes are to attract our local community to get in the door and see what we have going on. When we show the fans that we are getting better and can win, they will come back!

The Facebook page was just something I knew to do from Georgetown and it’s a great way to make sure people know what's going on, even if they aren't local.

The other thing I am doing that helps us fundraise a bit is that we are selling t-shirts, sweatshirts, and polos that have OC volleyball. This is great because people will advertise our gear and have an association with our players.”

This is a great example of Constant Contact- using Social Media to reach out- and working Groups where appropriate to build a crowd. Remember: A Crowd Builds A Crowd!!

Great job, Lynette! Hope that your crowds reflect your hard work!

From Jenny Hazelwood, in her 2nd year as Head Coach of the Mississippi State Bulldogs:

“I have been doing everything I can to get out there myself and get our sport name out there. Volleyball is not big in MS, so people just don't know much about it. I will do any booster, donor or alumni event that I can be a part of. I am good friends with our head football coach, so he is always mentioning volleyball when he speaks at events as well.

One of the major things we did over the summer as a department was hire Lodestone Social Media to help integrate our Facebook, Twitter pages and link them with You Tube and Picasa (you have seen our great Facebook fan page). I first saw their presentation at The AVCA Spring Conference this year and immediately brought all of the information back and got our administration on board. Lodestone designs a custom page, updates it regularly (and we update stuff all the time too), they do all of those fun things like Fan of the Week and then we tell them about any of our match promotions and they put that information out there all the time. So we had a t-shirt give away for our Friday night match for the first 75 fans that brought the coupon printed out from our Facebook Fan Page. We had over 350 views/clicks on the coupon and gave away the t-shirts in no time!! On Saturday night, Dan Mullen (football coach) was our guest coach. People in this state absolutely LOVE him, and he was a huge draw for that match, which was the same day as the Football Fan Day, so we were encouraging people coming in for that to also come to volleyball. He promoted being our guest coach at the Summer Extravaganza in Jackson (encouraging people to come after Fan Day), he promoted it again at our event on campus for all students to kick off the school year called The Drill and he was tweeting about it day of quite a bit too. There was plenty of local media coverage about it and Dan's Tweet after the match was re-tweeted by SECCoachesWire (who basically only re-tweets what the football and basketball coaches tweet). Just getting that exposure was huge for our program.

Basically, with all of the different things going on (Facebook Fan page and Twitter constantly promoting it, T-shirt give away and Dan as guest coach) we just created a lot of buzz about being at the volleyball matches. We got more media coverage than we had in the past even before our first match and I believe it is from all of the social media stuff getting info out there.”

Super job, Jenny! I want to point out that both of these Coaches took a “Hands On” approach to the business of Marketing their program. I think both are great examples of success!

(Phil Bush will be Blogging throughout the fall on Promotion/Production of Volleyball. Follow his thoughts at as well.)

Monday, September 13, 2010

By Jen Armson-Dyer

A Look At The Weekend (Sept. 10-12) – And What’s Up Next

Stanford Comes Up Big
It was a big weekend for the Stanford Cardinal as they swept two top-five teams in Texas (25-16, 25-11, 25-21) and Penn State (28-26, 25-12, 25-18), snapping the Nittany Lions’ NCAA-record 109-match winning streak, at the inaugural Nike Big Four Classic in Gainesville, Fla. Coincidentally, the last Penn State loss was on Sept. 15, 2007 at the hands of the Cardinal. Against the Longhorns, senior Alix Klineman led all players with 10 kills while freshman Rachel Williams added in nine on .375 hitting. The Stanford defense, led by senior Gabi Ailes with 12 kills and senior Cassidy Lichtman with 10 digs, held Texas to a -.012 hitting percentage for the match. The following night against the Nittany Lions, Klineman again led the squad with her third double-double of the season, posting a match-high 16 kills along with 10 digs. Lichtman pounded 12 kills on .478 hitting while also dishing out 22 assists and picking up seven digs. For the match, Stanford hit .389 while picking up 42 digs, led by Ailes with 14. For her efforts, Klineman was named the Pac-10 Player of the Week, her fifth career honor.

Northwestern Takes Ohio Baymont Inn Suites Invitational Title
Northwestern also made some waves this weekend by capturing the title at Ohio’s Baymont Inn Suites Invitational title with victories over the Bobcats (25-20, 25-16, 24-26, 26-16), No. 14 Tennessee (19-25, 17-25, 25-8, 26-24, 15-11) and Big East power Pittsburgh (25-17, 25-21, 25-22). In the tournament-opening match against the Lady Vols, four Wildcats reached double-digit kills as Northwestern fought back from being down 0-2 to claim the victory. Senior Sabel Moffett racked up 14 kills on .480 hitting with six blocks while senior Naomi Johnson posted 12 kills and two aces and senior Christina Kaelin and freshman Stephanie Holthus both recorded 11 kills. Senior setter Elyse Glab dished out 50 assists and led the team with 13 digs in the win. Against Pitt, Johnson and Moffett again led the ‘Cats with 12 and 11 kills, respectively, as Northwestern attacked at a .366 clip for the match. In the final match of the tournament against the homestanding Bobcats, Johnson rose to the occasion with 14 kills on .500 hitting with a match-high four aces and nine blocks. The Wildcats improve to 7-1 for the season.

Pacific Takes Down No. 24 Arizona
The Pacific Tigers took down No. 24 Arizona in four games (25-21, 22-25, 25-23, 25-12) at the Wolfpack Invitational in Reno, Nev. Senior outside hitter Svenja Engelhardt led the Tigers with 16 kills and added in two aces, five digs and two blocks. Junior outside hitter Samantha Misa, a transfer from the College of Southern Idaho, posted 15 kills on .312 hitting with two aces and 13 digs. Junior Rebekah Torres led all players with 22 of the team’s 64 total digs. Sophomore setter Hannah Clancy dished out 43 assists and also picked up 17 digs. Pacific and Arizona split the first two games and the Tigers pulled off a deuce-game victory in the third set before Pacific caught fire in the fourth, siding out at 100% (12-12) and holding Arizona to a .000 (9-9-37) hitting percentage.

College Of Charleston Defeats Cincinnati
On the same night the College of Charleston hoisted last year’s Southern Conference championship banner, the Cougars defeated Big East front-runner Cincinnati in four games (25-21, 25-22, 21-25, 25-23) to open its home season at the Holiday Inn Charleston Riverview Classic. The Bearcats were fresh off a victory over No. 16 Kentucky earlier in the week. Whitney Russell led the Cougars with 23 kills on .310 hitting with 13 digs and five blocks. "We made a lot of big-time plays tonight to give ourselves a chance to win," he said. "We have the ability to play at a high level, we just have to get this team to consistently play at that high level. Tonight is one step close to this team's goals and to beat Cincinnati here at home is a great start to this weekend.”

Eastern Illinois Upsets Clemson
After falling to Michigan State in three games, Eastern Illinois ended the Spartan Invitational on a high note with a four-game victory over Clemson (21-25, 25-16, 25-20, 25-22). Senior Kelsey Orr, named to the All-Tournament team, led the Panther attack with 22 kills on .372 hitting while also notching a double-double with 16 digs, the 18th double-double of her career. Reynae Hutchinson and Jorie Dieter picked up 11 and 10 kills, respectively, in the upset bid.

Eastern Michigan Stuns Michigan State
Eastern Michigan stunned Michigan State in five games (25-22, 23-25, 16-25, 25-21, 15-10) on Saturday to capture the title at the Michigan State Spartan Invitational. The victory is the first for the Eagles over the Spartans since Sept. 23, 1992. The victory moved the Eagles to 10-1 on the season, the program's best 11-match record since the 2003 campaign. Additionally, the win was the first by EMU over a Big Ten Conference foe since Sept. 14, 2002, when the Eagles upended Iowa, 3-1, at the Western Illinois Tournament. Sophomore outside hitter Rachel Iaquaniello, the tournament’s Most Valuable Player, paced Eastern Michigan with 20 kills as Paige Roback and Jenn Swartz chipped in 11 and 10 kills, respectively. Ashley Mason dished out 45 assists and Haley Stein picked up a match-high 27 digs as both were also named to the All-Tournament team.

Up Next
Some important conference matches start next week, with Nebraska traveling to Iowa State on Wednesday and Florida traveling to Kentucky and Tennessee on Friday and Sunday. Also on the slate is Minnesota at San Diego (Sept. 18) along with match-ups of Illinois, Purdue, Cincinnati and Louisville at the Big Ten/Big East Challenge in Louisville, Ky.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Volleyball and Budget Cuts

by Kathy DeBoer

A truism of bureaucracy is that it’s much easier to start new programs than to get rid of old ones. I learned from my three years of work in government that during normal times new initiatives proliferate while those that have outlived their usefulness are allowed to continue. It’s not that politicians are na├»ve to unnecessary spending; it’s that there are few political points to score in fighting entrenched interests.

A fiscal crisis changes that balance of power. Recently more than one government official has been quoted as saying, “Never waste a good crisis.”

We are facing similar circumstances in intercollegiate athletics today. For years athletics administrators have been whining that the financial model of higher salaries, newer facilities, and more programming is unsustainable, yet the quest for competitive advantage continued to drive spending. Most agreed on several common practices that wasted money, but they, like politicians, lacked the political clout and cohesiveness to legislate change, and those seeking to do so unilaterally often paid for it with their jobs.

Today we have a ‘crisis’ and the 2011 NCAA legislative agenda in Division I is proof positive that administrators do not intend to ‘waste it.’ On the docket are proposals to disallow off-campus hotel stay before home football games, to cut women’s basketball scholarships, and to eliminate institutional foreign tours.

Impacting women’s volleyball directly is a proposal to cut pre-season training opportunities from 29 to 21, and to eliminate two of the four non-traditional season competition dates. The price tag attached to these cuts varies from significant to chump change. In fact the cutting of off-season playing dates, given the tight restrictions that were imposed last year, actually feel punitive in nature.

We must decipher as volleyball coaches what is essential to the health and wellbeing of our student-athletes and what is a ‘nice-to-have’ perk that we can function without. Only the pre-season practice reduction is volleyball-specific, and even that change is designed to group volleyball with the 21-practice opportunities currently available to soccer, field hockey and cross country.

As much as no sport likes to lose something they have previously had, this is a time when we must pick our battles and be strategic in our approach. Crisis aside, in the last two years NCAA collegiate volleyball has lost two DI women’s program (Wagner and Maine), but has added four DIII men’s programs (Maritime, Mt. St Joseph’s, Regis and Sage Colleges) and spawned an emerging sport in Divisions I and II (Sand Volleyball).

If we can weather this economic squeeze, 2010-2020 may be looked back on as a breakout decade for our sport.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

10 Championship Behaviors for Coaches To Consider

by Terry Pettit

1. Limit the amount of talking you do in a practice with the use of key words. If it takes more than two minutes to explain a drill or a behavior you are entertaining yourself and confusing your players.

2. Leave sarcasm at the gym door. Sarcasm is easy and fun with peers but it erodes trust when used by an authority figure with the people he is attempting to teach or lead. Even when the person with less power laughs she can feel diminished by the most important person in her development.

3. Every time we ask a player to make an adjustment we are entering a contract with them that says: If you are willing to be uncomfortable and take this risk as a player, than I am going to limit my feedback to you on this one behavior. It’s not productive to ask a player to lengthen their first step on her approach and then observe that she attacked the ball to the wrong zone.

4. Before you get frustrated with a player not closing the block ask yourself the
· Have I trained her how to process and sequence the decisions she has to make as the ball approaches the setter?
· Have I trained her in efficient footwork patterns?
· Have I trained her in how to seal the block?
· Have I trained her to pull from her shoulders?
· Have I trained her in how to land on both feet?
· Have we worked on this movement every day?
These same questions can be asked about every behavior we see on the court. When
we evaluate our players we are evaluating our preparation and teaching.

5. Encourage communication with every contact of the ball. Whether or not a player calls for the ball is as important as whether or not she can make a fundamentally sound play. Communication has to be trained as well.

6. Energy is the hardest thing for a coach to bring to practice every day. It is also the most important. Consistent enthusiasm for the game and the opportunity to work with players also models the engagement we want from our team members.

7. We have to train decisions as well as fundamentals. If two teams are equal in talent and fundamentals, the winner is the team that that makes the best decisions. Telling players what to do is not enough. They have to be put into situational training where they can make the better decision under game like conditions.

8. Getting the right people on the court in the right position may be the most important factor in a team’s success. When we bring too much bias about what a player can do and can’t do before the season begins, this becomes a more difficult task. Be open to what you see not to what you thought you would see.

9. We have to teach many of our players how to compete. Compete means keeping score. Compete means setting goals in drills so that the players have accountability for how long a drill lasts. Compete means making practice fun and game like.

10. Consider keeping a coaching journal where you write down observations about your players, the feedback you give them, how each individual learns, and what type of communication is most effective. Periodically reviewing the journal can help us from continually rediscovering what we already knew (but forgot) about a player or team’s development.

-- Terry Pettit is the author of Talent and the Secret Life of Teams and other articles on coaching volleyball at

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

A Look At The Weekend (Sept. 3-5) – And What’s Up Next

By Jen Armson-Dyer

No. 5 Illinois def. No. 2 Texas, 3-0Perhaps the highest-profile upset of the weekend was No. 5 Illinois sweeping No. 2 Texas, 25-23, 25-18, 25-18, in Austin. The loss was the first for the Longhorns in its last 26 matches in Gregory Gym and the first time they have been swept at home since falling to Notre Dame on Sept. 6, 2003. Illini senior outside hitter and two-time AVCA All-American Laura DeBruler led all players with 17 kills while junior outside hitter Colleen Ward, a transfer from the University of Florida, chipped in 11 kills on .310 hitting, and sophomore outside hitter Michelle Bartsch posted 10 kills on an errorless 19 swings to hit. 526. Texas senior outside hitter Juliann Faucette led the Longhorns with 10 kills. Texas bounced back the next night to outlast No. 23 Long Beach State to capture the 1,000th win in program history.

No. 22 Northern Iowa def. No. 8 MinnesotaAnother top team to fall on its home court was No. 8 Minnesota, who dropped a five-game heartbreaker (16-25, 25-16, 25-17, 23-25, 16-18) to No. 22 Northern Iowa in Minneapolis. Panther junior middle hitter Michelle Burow blitzed the Gophers with a personal-best 23 kills on .526 hitting while for Minnesota, sophomore outside hitter Tabi Love led the way with a career-high 23 kills. The two teams also put on a defensive show, with a total of 194 combined digs, with Northern Iowa’s Ellie Blankenship picking up 32 digs in the winning effort and Minnesota’s Jessica Granquist posting 33, a career-best. The win marks the first Panther triumph over a ranked opponent on the road since topping No. 23 Missouri State on Nov. 29, 2003, and also is the first Panther victory over a top 10 team since beating No. 3 Florida on Nov. 30, 2002.

Nevada def. Notre DameNevada rallied from a 2-1 deficit to knock off Notre Dame in five games, 23-25, 25-22, 11-25, 25-16, 15-12 to capture the Nevada Invitational in Reno, Nev. The Wolfpack racked up 18.5 total team blocks, led by sophomore Janelle Batisa, freshman Grace Anxo and senior Lindsay Baldwin with eight each, while junior Erin Garvey posted seven. Offensively, senior Kylie Harrington, the tournament MVP, recorded 17 kills to lead Nevada. For Notre Dame, last season’s Big East regular-season champion, junior Kristen Dealy led the way with 19 kills and 15 digs.

Miami def. Middle Tennessee, Southern MissMiami (Fla.) had a big weekend, defeating Middle Tennessee in four games (20-25, 25-21, 25-23, 25-23) and also taking down Southern Miss in four games (26-24, 25-15, 22-25, 25-23) to take the title at the Blue Raider Bash in Murfreesboro, Tenn. Against Southern Miss, five Miami players posted double-digit kills, led by junior Lane Carico with 13 as she also posted 16 digs. Versus host Middle Tennessee, Carico put up another double-double with 14 kills and 14 digs as the Hurricanes improved to 7-1 on the season.

Central Arkansas def. TCUIn what is being considered one of the biggest non-conference win in the history of the program, Central Arkansas defeated TCU in four games (25-21, 25-19, 22-25, 25-14) in Fort Worth, Texas, in the final match of the TCU Molten Invitational. The Sugar Bears had three players in double-digit kills, including junior outside hitter Jessica Hays with 16, senior opposite Chloe Smith with 15 and sophomore middle hitter Taylor Hammonds with 10 on .375 hitting, with Smith also posting a match-high seven blocks and Hays recording four of the team’s 10 service aces. Junior libero Cristin Curl topped the defensive effort with a career-high 34 digs.
Portland def. Wichita StateFor just the third time in the last three seasons, Wichita State fell at home as Portland defeated the squad in four games (17-25, 26-24, 25-23, 25-22) to capture the title at the Shocker Classic in Wichita, Kan. The loss is also just the 14th in 97 home matches since the 2003 season. Junior Kati Hronek and sophomore Ariel Usher combined for 29 kills in the Pilot win, with Hronek matching her career high with 17 kills. Senior libero Danielle Dupar picked up a career-best 36 digs for the Pilots, who captured the school’s first volleyball tournament title since the 2004 Nike Portland Invitational.

What’s Up Next?History will be made one way or another this weekend in Gainesville, Fla., as the Gators host the inaugural Nike Big Four Classic and welcome three-time defending NCAA Champion Penn State, 2009 NCAA Runners-Up Texas and perennial power Stanford to the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. The Nittany Lions come into the weekend boasting an unprecedented 108-match winning streak, the longest ever in any women’s Division I sport, having not lost a match since Sept. 15, 2007 when they fell in five games to Stanford in New Haven, Conn.

The four teams participating in the Nike Big Four Classic have combined for 3,702 wins in the history of their programs and have a combined 11 NCAA National Championships and 39 NCAA National Semifinal appearances. The four teams have combined for 81 conference championships and six AVCA All-Americans will see action this weekend. Stanford and Texas will kick off the tournament on Friday at 5:30 p.m., with Penn State and Florida meeting at 7:30 p.m. For more information, please visit

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Other Streak – Penn State Women’s Volleyball

By Jen Armson-Dyer

It’s been almost three years. One thousand eighty days since the Penn State women’s volleyball team dropped a marathon two hour and 20 minute five-game heartbreaker to Stanford in a packed gym in New Haven, Conn. It was that day, Sept. 15, 2007, that three Nittany Lion players, Alyssa D’Errico, Arielle Wilson and Blair Brown, felt what it was like to lose a collegiate match. And they haven’t had that feeling since.

Sure they’ve had help along the way, a sort of perfect aligning of the volleyball stars that has produced multiple AVCA All-Americans, three consecutive Big Ten and NCAA National Championships and a record-breaking streak of 105 straight match wins. That’s the story that gets the buzz going. It’s what makes SportsCenter. It’s what makes non-volleyball fans sit up and take notice, when the team is mentioned in the same breath as John Wooden’s UCLA men’s basketball teams that now have a shorter streak than Russ Rose’s team.

But what’s the story behind the story? At some point this team will lose. With the loss of three key starters and the arrival of nine new freshmen to campus, there’s a pretty good chance that it will be this season, perhaps even this preseason as the Nittany Lions will travel to Gainesville to face a Florida team that just knocked off Nebraska. How will this team handle losing, especially in a program that hasn’t done so in so long. That’s the real question.

The answer lies behind the blue metal double doors at the far end of Rec Hall leading to the team’s practice facility, South Gym. It’s a windowless hot box of a gym with four courts and not much else. Not much else besides blood, sweat, tears and tradition. There are no banners on the walls. There are no trophies, no plaques. The tradition is carried on within the people in South Gym and it is the main focus of those three seniors, the ones who felt what it was like to lose at Penn State. Those three seniors have lost two matches their entire career. Some teams lose two matches in a day. How will they respond when the winning streak ends, especially as the leaders of such a young team? By looking towards the next match and learning from their mistakes.

“You never want to be put in a position to lose a game, and once you do, you never want to go back,” said Wilson. “We never want to feel that again.”

“You try not to pay attention to everything outside,” added Brown. “We’re just really concentrating on pushing through the season and getting better the whole year to be the best at the end.”

“Everything outside” would also include The Streak. To the members of the Penn State volleyball program, they don’t even know what number the win streak stands at.

“[The win streak] doesn’t matter to me at all,” laughed Brown.

To the members of the staff and team, The Streak is in fact four different win streaks that just happen to be in consecutive seasons. It began in 2007 after that fateful loss to Stanford, 26 straight wins that culminated in the program’s second NCAA title as the Nittany Lions returned the favor to the Cardinal with a five-game win for the trophy. The Streak reached new levels in 2008 with arguably one of the best teams in women’s collegiate volleyball history that produced a record six AVCA All-Americans (Brown and Wilson among them), and not only went undefeated in matches (38-0) but lost only two individual games all season. With the graduation of some key players, the 2009 NCAA title wasn’t a sure thing for many prognosticators but nonetheless Penn State proved everyone wrong and once more ran the table, again going 38-0 for an unprecedented third consecutive NCAA title. So far in 2010, the Nittany Lions are off to a 3-0 start after sweeping all three opponents opening weekend.

If you’re keeping track, that’s a collegiate career record of 113-2 for Brown, Wilson and D’Errico, who have all been key players since the beginning.

So why doesn’t The Streak matter? Because wins and losses, while nice, aren’t the end-all-be-all. It’s how you play the game. Teams can play bad and win, yet they can also play well and lose. At a successful program like Penn State, it’s about how you represent yourself and the team, a sentiment these three seniors have a strong grasp on.

“My mindset is that I just play hard every game, no matter who the opponent is,” said Wilson.

“We need to uphold the tradition and play our game, win or lose. We have to play with our heads held high and be Penn State proud.”

With their mix of personalities and leadership styles, Brown, D’Errico and Wilson are working hard on and off the court to let the nine newcomers, several of whom are now starters, know what it means to be Penn State proud.

“Whether it’s helping the new players with classes or on the court during drills or water breaks, we’re just there for them,” said D’Errico. “Our main role is how well we’re bringing the other people along rather than how much we’re going to be in the spotlight, because the entire team has to be good for us to win.”

This collective effort of passing down the tradition is something that Rose also speaks of, and he knows that a loss, while not something he’d prefer or probably admit to, isn’t the end of the world.

“It’s a program, it’s a culture. You hate it when you lose your good players and you’re a little apprehensive about youth, but that’s the only way people get experience. You have to go through the tough times to really be able to embrace the excitement of the good times. If this senior class experiences more of the good times, then they’re lucky. If they had the good times and then the tough times, they still had it pretty good.”

While all of the wins, trophies and accolades may be what this era of Penn State volleyball is remembered for, D’Errico sums up her wishes for the 2010 campaign.

“I would love to win my last match and we’re going to work hard every day to win another national championship, but if we leave behind what the program is supposed to be like for the freshmen and they can carry on the tradition, to me that’s just as great of an accomplishment.”

And that tradition is a streak that will live on for years to come if these seniors have anything to say about it.