One of the most undervalued parts of volleyball is the serve. A team can put themselves in a strong position to win simply by being effective on the service line.
Such was the case on Sunday as the Kentucky No. 15 swept LSU to win part of the weekend series. While trying to find their way offensively early in Sunday’s game, Kentucky managed to stay in the game by serving effectively. In fact, going into the first set, the Cats were down to negative percentage, but held a 9-6 lead thanks to three service aces, two by Eleanor Beavin and one by Riah Walker.
England head coach Craig Skinner has noted how important serve can be and how his side have used it to their advantage this season.
“Definitely something we’re capable of, something we’ve done most of the time all year,” Skinner said. “It was a bit erratic at times. But we are certainly able to put pressure on people with our service.
Skinner knew that early service aces were important to getting his team off to a quick start. He also knows the Cats need to serve well against quality teams.
“We set the tone early, I think we had two or three aces in the first seven or eight points,” Skinner said. “It has to be a weapon against good teams.”
Kentucky finished Sunday’s game with seven service aces, compared to LSU’s only one. Walker thinks it’s important to have confidence in the service line to be successful there.
“We’re always looking for tough services to get them out of the system,” Walker said. “I’ve struggled a bit with my serve so far. Knowing that my teammates are behind me and supporting me and trusting my serve no matter how I’m doing, it always lets us know we can go on. look for.
But it’s not just aces that can affect the game. When teams fail to receive the serve effectively, they can be taken out of their attacking rhythm or out of the system, which can, in turn, create an opportunity for the serving team to take advantage. In Sunday’s game, Kentucky was able to use these situations to their advantage on several occasions.
For the season, Kentucky has 68 service aces, or 1.7 per set. Opponents UK have just 33 aces, giving the Cats a clear advantage on the service line.
Although it may seem simplistic to the common fan, the serve can turn out to be a weapon when used correctly. Kentucky proved that on Sunday by pressuring LSU with their serve all game long.