Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Spikers serving up to U with new playing technique

November 1, 2000
Senior setter Christie Landry does ajump serve earlier this season in a game at Jenison Field House. —

The question is simple, “To jump, or not to jump?”

That’s the dilemma many women’s volleyball players struggle with when deciding how they want to serve.

Traditionally, jumping has never been involved with serving. However, as athletes become quicker, stronger and smarter, the jump serve is seen more and more, said MSU women’s head volleyball coach Chuck Erbe.

“I have seen the changes in the game,” he said. “I think it’s the way of the future as you get more explosive athletes.”

Revolutions in the way a sport is played are rare and usually pass without notice, leaving spectators left to ponder how such changes came about.

The jump serve is that kind of revolution, and it’s happening at MSU.

With a traditional standing serve, the defending team prepares to receive and pass, setting up its attack. With the jump serve, Erbe said teams are forced to dig serves, throwing their attack off.

“As teams get better at siding out, you’ve got to increase the risk factor,” he said. “The way you do that is with the jump serve. The jump serve has become a spike from behind the end line.”

Erbe said jump serving has more chance for error, but added disrupting an opponent’s passing is worth the risk. He said the jump serve is considerably more powerful than the traditional serve, making the opponents’ attack one-dimensional.

“You can’t prepare for that powerful of a serve,” he said. “Basically, there is no middle attack, everything goes outside. Now you have a predictable offense that your defense can set up for. It’s like the outside hitter versus the defense.”

Senior setter Christie Landry used the jump serve earlier in the season at the Notre Dame/Adidas Invitational and the University of San Diego Invitational in September. Once Big Ten play started she returned to the traditional serve.

“There came a point when I wasn’t really consistent with it,” Landry said. “Other teams were passing me really well.”

Landry said the jump serve provides a good change of pace because most teams don’t see it very often, making it hard to anticipate. She added it’s harder to execute than the traditional serve, but said it suits MSU’s style.

“I think it’s good for what we want to do, it takes other teams out of their offense,” she said. “The jump serve is not the easiest serve to pass.”

Landry began using the jump serve in Big Ten play against Minnesota on Oct. 20, after Erbe inquired why she stopped using it.

So why doesn’t every player utilize the jump serve?

Junior outside hitter Erin Hartley, who started using it against Minnesota, said it’s hard on the body and difficult to get comfortable with. She said it can be a huge weapon and she plans to stick with it.

“It all depends on how confident we are with it when game time rolls around,” she said. “It takes a lot out on your body. It’s hard on the joints and it takes a lot of energy.”

Hartley said several MSU players have tinkered with the jump serve in practice. She said Erbe has mentioned it in meetings, but added he hasn’t pressured anyone to use it.

“He said, ‘Anyone who wants to jump serve can jump serve,’” she said. “So, it’s pretty much up to the players.”

Erbe said he hopes more Spartans pick it up and he anticipates it becoming more of a weapon in MSU’s arsenal.

“It’s something we’re going to continue with,” Erbe said. “Even some of our incoming freshmen are jump serving in their senior year (of high school) in preparation.

“We’re going to do everything we can to find a way to win and keep this team aggressive. If that means more risk in serving, we’re going to have more risk in serving.”


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