Ever face an outside hitter you feel you can't shut down? Like whatever single- or double-block you're putting up, she's finding a hole? Maybe you should try release blocking. It's a defensive strategy that's most effective when the setter and outside hitter are both in the front row.
Here's how it works: Team A's front row setter and left side hitter are killing Team B. So Team B decides to release block with their middle blocker. This means that as soon as Team B's middle blocker can read that Team A's middle hitter is going to run a 1-ball (a short, quick set), she "releases" to her right and immediately forms a double-block with her right front blocker. Because the middle blocker leaves before the setter touches the ball, she has enough time to form a tight double block against that pesky left side. As the release takes place, Team B's left front blocker steps in front of Team A's middle hitter to block the quick set, one-on-one.
When it comes to release blocking, it's a chess match. But one thing is always for sure: You cannot sit back and let an outside hitter get you in checkmate.
Dewey is the assistant coach for the University of Tulsa.
Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock