Two liberos key to Railway women's success, says Ramana Rao

Lauding the Indian Railways women’s squad for resorting to the move, Ramana Rao, vice president Volleyball Federation of India, said the strategy helped the team recover from a first set deficit to eventually claim the crown.

In the women’s final, one Railway libero was brought in specifically to receive service, a skill she was strong with.   -  SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

“Employing two liberos is a tactic even men’s teams should adopt,” A. Ramana Rao told Sportstar while looking back at the Federation Cup volleyball tournament that concluded at the Cosmopolitan Club, Bhimavaram on Sunday.

Lauding the Indian Railways women’s squad for resorting to the move, he said the strategy helped it recover from a first set deficit to eventually claim the crown.

In general, the libero replaces a blocker to bolster the defence. In the women’s final, one Railway libero was brought in specifically to receive service, a skill she was strong with. When the service changed hands, she was replaced by the regular libero, both thus effectively contributing to the team’s cause.

“Since the rules allow any number of substitutions for liberos, Railways made the most of that provision and reaped the rewards,” the Dronacharya awardee observed.

Sound interception of service not only saved points but assisted in properly setting up attacking combinations. The three primary scoring skills of serving, blocking and spiking needed much more practice to reduce margins of error in the Indian game. Other skills being intermediary, they could be acquired more easily if the first three had a good grounding.

If Indian volleyball aspired to meet international standards, then it should actively adopt the ‘read block,’ he suggested. On the method employed by teams in Europe and leading nations in the game, he said blockers responded to the setting of the ball. In that way, the ‘wall’ would not be misled by the jumps of spikers, with one or even two of them faking the shot so that the actual hitter is not quickly revealed.

“Indian blockers aren’t capitalising on their height to score points from aggressive or kill blocks. So reflexes and reaction times should be improved,” the Arjuna awardee urged. “The pattern of spiking must be changed by assessing each opposition and backed up by variety.”

Appraisals of player performance in India were based mostly on human observations, with the negatives being invariably overlooked. At the international level, they were more scientific with software to analyse the winners scored and the points spilt, the Volleyball Federation of India (VFI) vice president added.