Courtesy: Idaho Athletic Media Relations
Alex Sele (left), Julia Church
Volleyball aims to improve
Courtesy: Idaho Athletic Media Relations
          Release: 03/20/2012
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MOSCOW - When the Idaho volleyball team opened up its spring season with its first team practice on Monday, there were a couple new training aids in Memorial Gym to help the team.

Idaho coach Debbie Buchanan and her staff brought in a radar gun this spring to help with the team's serving. They also added a DVR system to enable the players to watch film of themselves instantaneously during practice.

Buchanan said the team's serving already improved throughout individual drills earlier this semester, and the radar gun is helping each player find the right serve for them as the six-weeks of team practice get underway. And, improvement in one part of the game can be contagious to others, Buchanan explains.

"Our serving has jumped up a level, which makes our passing not look as good," she said. "So right now we're trying to catch that up. It's the same thing as when your blocking gets better, your offense doesn't look as good, but that's a good problem to have."

The DVR setup the Vandals implemented is simple. A video camera, which is connected to the DVR machine, records a drill. The DVR, which is connected to the TV, creates a delay in the feed. This allows a player who just hit in a hitting line to watch her swing as she walks back to the end of the line, for example.

Assistant coach Brian Lamppa used a similar setup at the Division III level years ago, and brought the technique with him to Idaho.

"The girls like it," Lamppa said. "Instead of just getting all verbal feedback now they're getting visual feedback. They go and hit a ball, and when they walk back to their line to hit again they can watch it. Kids tend to be more visual learners these days than in the past so that helps."

Idaho lost three seniors, including two all-Western Athletic Conference players, from last year's team that earned the program's best WAC season with a second-place finish. With those losses come opportunities for younger players to step in and prove themselves, and Buchanan said the spring season gives those players the chance to do that with a longer leash than they would have during the fall. Idaho's spring schedule includes tournaments on April 7, 14 and 21, and a scrimmage against Washington State on April 28.

"Our goal is not to just go out and win all of these tournaments," Buchanan said. "Obviously it would be nice to be able to do that, but we're going to put some kids who maybe aren't as experienced in some situations. They might struggle, but we're going to let them play through that. This is the time to let them do that, to kill the pressure a little bit and see how they're going to respond."

The Vandals will face Seattle University, Eastern Washington, Central Washington, Montana State and Boise State at Washington State's spring tournament on April 7. Idaho will host a tournament on April 14 in Memorial Gym, with the schedule for that still to be announced. On April 21 the Vandals will head to Gonzaga's spring tournament where they will face Gonzaga, Spokane Falls Community College and Eastern Washington. Idaho will wrap up its spring season on April 28 with a scrimmage against the Cougars in Pullman.

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