What Does the Setter Do in Volleyball?

Volleyball - Olympics: Day 14

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The setter is much like the quarterback in football or the point guard in basketball. They are in charge of the offense. They decide who should get the ball and when. It doesn't matter how good a team's hitters are if it doesn't have a setter that can consistently deliver a good ball to hit. The setter is a critical position in volleyball.

What the Setter Does

  1. Before the serve, make sure that all of your teammates are lined up correctly and there is no overlap
  2. Communicate with each hitter to make sure they know the play they will run and what set they will hit.
  3. Wait for the opponent's serve to cross the net and then move into position for the perfect pass which is at the net, just right of the middle of the court.
  4. Make a decision about which hitter gets the ball based on the position of the pass, the availability of your hitters, the other team's blocker position and abilities and the other team's defense. Setter may also decide to dump or put the ball over the net on the second contact depending on these factors.
  5. On defense in the front row, the setter blocks on the right side against the other team's outside hitter. Once the ball crosses back into your court, get into position to set the ball in transition.
  6. On defense in the back row, dig from the right back if necessary. Make sure another player knows you need them to set if you make the dig. If you don't dig the ball, get to the net quickly to set the ball in transition.

Attributes That Are Important in a Setter

  • Good leadership skills
  • Good hands
  • Consistency
  • Good communication skills
  • Good understanding of the game
  • Quick decision-maker
  • Ability to multi-task

Starting Position

In the front row, the setter blocks on the right side. They are responsible for blocking against the other team's left side or outside hitter. In the back row, the setter plays right back and is responsible for digging if necessary and getting up to the net quickly to set if they do not make the dig.

Play Development

In the front row, the setter needs to help identify the hitters on the other side. Once the ball is served, they need to track the hitters to make sure they know which hitter is headed their way so they can block them. They need to be ready to if their setter decides to dump and could be the closest person to play that ball up. If their right side hitter heads to the middle for an "X" play, the setter needs to get to the middle to help out on the block. If the middle hitter goes for a "three" set, they need to be prepared to help out blocking there as well. If they set high outside, they need to set the block early and allow the middle blocker to get close to them.

In the back row, the setter plays right back. They are responsible for digging the cross-court shot of their opposite or right side hitter and the line shot of their outside hitter. They should be prepared to dig and not abandon their spot to get to the net to set. If there is no dig, there is no set to be made. Once they see the ball is not hit in their direction, they need to quickly get to the net, analyze their choices and make a decision about where the ball should go next.

Before the Serve

The setter needs to keep track of their position in relation to the other players on the court and make sure that none of the players are overlapped in serve receive. The setter is never a part of the passing on serve receive so they may start at the net or behind a passer. Once the ball crosses the net, they can move to their position at the net and prepare to set the pass.

Play Development

The setter determines the play the team will run. They have communicated the play to their hitters and are ready to deliver the ball when it is passed. If the pass is good, they have their pick of hitters. They should take note of the other team's blockers and defense and pair that up with what they know about their hitters to determine who will get the ball or if they will dump the ball over the net to their opponent's side. If the pass is bad, the setter needs to move quickly to the ball and make an attempt to better the ball by putting it in a position to be attacked by one of their front row or back row hitters. If they cannot get to the ball, they need to call out to a teammate to let them know that they need to make the second contact.