Aided by a dominant showing from the United States in Beijing last month, volleyball is rising in popularity across the United States but Sacramento has always been a hotbed for the sport, especially for high school talent. Over the next several weeks, The Bee's Prep Blog will bring you a series of informational posts about the game, how it's played and its nuances.
If you have ever played or coached competitive volleyball, this will be review. But if your niece, grandson, neighbor, BFF or any other significant other plays and you've been too afraid to ask what's going on, this is for you.
Now we know the rules, and who goes where and why. Let's brush up on the lingo now, shall we?
Pass: Contacting the ball as a means to get it to another player or over the net. This is usually done with both arms extended in front of a player forming a solid platform with which to direct the ball, however, an overhand pass is also possible. When you hear coaches or players complain about (or praise) their team's passing, it usually means the first contact after a serve.
Set: An overhand pass done with the fingertips to direct the ball at an attacking player.
Nice hands: When the setter (or another player) sets the ball cleanly, with minimal spin, and accurately to a spot in which an attacker can hit it.
Spike: An overhand striking motion, done in mid-air in order to potentially score a point.
Kill: A successful, point-scoring spike.
Dig: A spike that is kept off the floor during a rally.
Nice up: An exceptionally directed dig that the setter does not have to move very far to play.
Pancake: A dig done in such a way that a player slaps the floor just before the ball hits it, popping it back up in the air high enough for another player to hit it over.
Ace: A serve that is troublesome for the receiving team that it is unable to return.
Floater: A serve that is hit in such a way that it does not spin -- like a knuckleball in baseball -- and thus "floats" erratically through the air making it very difficult to pass.
Tool: When the attacking player on the outside or the right side hits off the block intending the ball to fall out of bounds, thus scoring a point.
Free ball: A ball that is passed, or struck overhead, on the third contact. You'll frequently hear players shout "Free ball!" or "Trouble!" when this happens.
On-two: When the setter attempts to put the ball over the net on second contact. This is also called "dumping" or "dinking."
Tip: When an attacking player does not swing, but rather makes slight contact with the ball, intending for it land in between the block and the defense.
Pipe: A set intended for a back row player, they sometimes catch the opposing defense off-guard.
Back row attack: When a player leaves their feet to attack the ball in front of the 10-foot-line while they are in the back row.
Side out: A change of possession. Also, a very cheesy volleyball movie starring C. Thomas Howell made in 1990.
Rally scoring: Scoring format in which a point is awarded on every serve. The standard scoring system at all levels of play, but up until early in this decade it was only possible to score a point on your team's serve. This resulted in long games as teams could simply side out back and forth with no points being scored. Many international, collegiate and high school records during this era still stand because the length of matches was longer.