"MB1" formation

  • While the Japanese women's team is likely practicing their "MB1" formation at the upcoming World Grand Championship, I'd like to share my memory about the Argentine men's team in 2002 World Championship, who also had a "MB1" formation on court, though in a different way.


    The Japanese coach quoted their new formation as "MB1" since they would have 4 wing spikers with only 1 MB on court. They're experimenting this formation because of the well-known fact that their MBs are too weak in the scoring element. Sakoda who's normally an OH with a high vertical jump, will fill up a MB position. She won't play quicks, though. Instead, she'd spike just like a wing spiker, but from the middle.


    This news reminds me of a very interesting formation adopted by the Argentine men's team when they played at home the World Championship. Argentina then also couldn't find another good-quality MB to pair with Spajic. To compensate this, Argentina tried to fill up their firing power on court as much as possible with more hard hitters. Hugo Conte, playing at home at the age of 40 in his last tournament at NT, took the position of MB. However, he almost never spiked from the middle. Instead, the legendary Milinkovic, together with the powerful and versatile Elgueta, played as acting MB whenever Conte was in the front row.


    Starting line-up: Weber (setter), Elgueta (OH), Conte (MB), Milinkovic (OPP), Bidegain (OH), Spajic (MB), Meana (L)


    Legend: Re L/C/R (received from left / center / right), LH / RH (left / right-side hitter), P (pipe attack)


    Rotation 1:
    Milinkovic (LH) --- Conte (RH; Re R) -------- Elgueta (MB)
    Bidegain (Re L) --- Spajic / Meana (Re C) --- Weber
    In this rotation, Conte and Elgueta swapped their positions. Relieved from reception responsibility, Elgueta would start his assisted run from the sideline to play A or C quick.


    Rotation 2:
    Bidegain (LH; Re L) ----- Milinkovic (MB) --- Conte (RH; Re R)
    Spajic / Meana (Re C) --- Weber ------------- Elgueta (P)
    When Elgueta moved to back row, Milinkovic played as a MB. Milinkovic might have forgotten how to play A quicks, so he seldom attacked in this rotation. As such, this rotation is a relatively weak rotation for Argentina offensively, even if Elgueta still did not receive and could focus at completing pipe attacks.


    Rotation 3:
    Spajic (MB) --- Bidegain (LH; Re L) --- Milinkovic (RH)
    Weber --------- Elgueta (P; Re C) ----- Conte / Meana (Re R)

    Offensively, this is pretty balanced, with Milinkovic, Elgueta and Spajic in their usual positions.


    Rotation 4:
    Weber --------------- Spajic (MB) ------------ Bidegain (LH; Re L)
    Elgueta (P; Re C) --- Conte / Meana (Re R) --- Milinkovic

    Not a strong rotation offensively but at least with many attacking options (needless to say, Milinkovic would take a lot of offensive load from back row). The challenge is for Weber to run from the left sideline to the middle of pos 2 / 3 to set. He's short but was quick and skillful, though.


    Rotation 5:
    Elgueta (LH; Re L) ----- Weber -------- Spajic (MB)
    Conte / Meana (Re C) --- Milinkovic --- Bidegain (Re R)

    Bidegain almost never spiked from back row. His role on court is to receive in all rotations.


    Rotation 6:
    Conte (LH; Re L) --- Elgueta (MB) ------ Weber
    Milinkovic --------- Bidegain (Re C) --- Spajic / Meana (Re R)

    Although Elgueta usually did not receive in this rotation, he would still move to the right sideline initially. Conte had a challenging role in this rotation by having to perform both offensive and reception duties. Occasionally, Bidegain and Meana would move slightly towards him such that his coverage area would be smaller. Elgueta in this case would also participate in reception near the sideline.


    A few interesting facts here:


    1. Both Milinkovic and Conte were once MBs in their early career at NT. However, perhaps because of his old age, Conte was never asked to play quicks in this formation, even if he's positioned opposite to Spajic in the line-up. Milinkovic, who actually played quick spikes pretty well in the past, appeared to have lost his rhythm after playing OPP for many years.


    2. Perhaps to resemble the rhythm of an OH, Elgueta liked to have an assisted run of long distance to play quicks. As such, in both rotations 1 and 6, he started from the right sideline to play A or C quicks, a bit like playing cross. The tempo was not as quick as Spajic's, but was still impressive and effective.


    3. In all rotations, the formation seemed to be meticulously designed such that Conte had to move the least. When he served in rotation 3, he would serve from zone 5 and stayed there for defense afterwards.

  • Wow,
    as the hour is late, i dont find concentration now to follow your text in detail. I will surly do it tomorrow. I really like, when coaches try to squeeze their teams and try to invent something new. Something, that doesn't happen very often anymore, especially in men's volleyball.
    Thank you very much for your effort :thumbup:

  • Thank you very much, andrea! This is by far one of the best posts in this forum ever! You brought back some memories and I am gonna tell you why. I clearly remember how I spent sleepless nights back in 2002 waiting for the WCH games (in the middle of the night in Europe). We had limited internet connection at home (the modem-like thing, besides, the power of internet and various media had been just evolving) and there was hardly any other information apart from what the commentator said during the games. Unfortunately, they only showed the Bulgarian NT and the final, as far as I can remember. I was very young back then and had no idea yet what was going on on the court. I didn't even understand the usual rotation with a setter, two middles and an opposite. Later, when I already knew what it was all about, I looked at different sources from that championship, including stats, rosters and so on. There were two teams that didn't quite keep the traditional playing scheme. Argentina was the first one, Croatia the second. If I am guessing correctly, Croatia must've also played with 3 wing spikers (Antunovic, Laninovic, Jakovcevic), but I don't really know if they converted one of them for the purpose of team play. I guess Omrcen was mostly the opposite, or maybe he was again rotated in the same way in the middle, just like Milinkovic. I might be wrong, though, someone who remembers more will have to give me a hand here.


    I wish I could see these games again now, years later, but there are only short parts of Argentina vs. Australia and Argentina vs. Italy in YouTube. The final Russia vs. Brazil is available at full length. Either my young age or the lack of complete information about that tournament then makes it somehow special. It was also the first World Champ with the new scoring system.


    I guess it would be a shot in the dark if I ask for some videos, right? I am sure I created a multimedia thread about it, but it's more or less in vain.

  • Years ago Foppapedretti Bergamo played with same tactic with 4 WS and 1MB and also Vakıfbank Gunes Sigorta used this way.


    In Bergamo Squad was :


    Grün (OPP) Poljak (MB) Lehtonen (OH)
    Piccinini (OH) Ortolani (OPP) Lobianco (S)


    Coach was Fenoglio if i am not wrong in their tactic every spiker apart from Piccinini was hitting in both zone 2 and 4.Just Piccinini was pure zone 4 hitter and when Poljak comes back and Ortolani comes front in service tours nobody was doing attacks in MB,one spiker in zone 2 and other in zone 4 (Generally Grün and Ortolani to 2 and some rotations Lehtonen was hitting in zone 2),in service reception tours one tour Grün had to stay in middle and Lobianco was doing diffrent combinations with her also Ortolani had to stay in MB one tour,3rd tour MB was empty same like service tours (One in 2 and other in 4) I don't remember which player was following blocks in MB but it suppose to be Ortolani.


    In Vakıfbank Gunes Sigorta :
    Aysun (MB) Neslihan (OPP) Dos Santos (OH) (Gozde)
    Gashuka (OH) Deniz Cetinsarac (OPP) Elif Oner (S)


    Coach was Ukrainan Vladimir Buzayev and their tactic was not complicated like Bergamo's.When Aysun comes back,Elif Oner was following the block in middle :aww::lol: And Neslihan and Deniz were attackers of zone 2 and Gashuka and Dos Santos were attackers of Zone 4.

    2010/2011 Eczacıbaşı VitrA - Turkish Cup Winner :cup:
    2011/2012 Eczacıbaşı VitrA - Super Cup Winner :cup:

  • also Conegliano had this kind of tactic: Manzano was the only MB, Serena was the setter and when she was in front line she blocked in the middle of the net. then there were Pavan and Brakocevic as OPPs and Serafin and Marcon as OHs..

  • In the past this was not such a seldom line-up. Peruvian women played this in 1988 Olympics, Gabi Perez Del Solar was lined up opposite the setter and attacked and blocked in the middle and the setter also played on position 3 in front row, and everyone else was attacking from 2 and 4.
    However, the way Japan's women play it isn't exactly convincing. They play with one real MB and one OH (usually Sakoda) who attacks and blocks in the middle, but does high balls in the middle, almost like backrow attacks. I don't like it because I think it makes it easier for the opponent block when there is no quick attacker...

  • Thank you very much, andrea! This is by far one of the best posts in this forum ever! You brought back some memories and I am gonna tell you why. I clearly remember how I spent sleepless nights back in 2002 waiting for the WCH games (in the middle of the night in Europe). We had limited internet connection at home (the modem-like thing, besides, the power of internet and various media had been just evolving) and there was hardly any other information apart from what the commentator said during the games. Unfortunately, they only showed the Bulgarian NT and the final, as far as I can remember. I was very young back then and had no idea yet what was going on on the court. I didn't even understand the usual rotation with a setter, two middles and an opposite. Later, when I already knew what it was all about, I looked at different sources from that championship, including stats, rosters and so on. There were two teams that didn't quite keep the traditional playing scheme. Argentina was the first one, Croatia the second. If I am guessing correctly, Croatia must've also played with 3 wing spikers (Antunovic, Laninovic, Jakovcevic), but I don't really know if they converted one of them for the purpose of team play. I guess Omrcen was mostly the opposite, or maybe he was again rotated in the same way in the middle, just like Milinkovic. I might be wrong, though, someone who remembers more will have to give me a hand here.


    I wish I could see these games again now, years later, but there are only short parts of Argentina vs. Australia and Argentina vs. Italy in YouTube. The final Russia vs. Brazil is available at full length. Either my young age or the lack of complete information about that tournament then makes it somehow special. It was also the first World Champ with the new scoring system.


    I guess it would be a shot in the dark if I ask for some videos, right? I am sure I created a multimedia thread about it, but it's more or less in vain.


    The 2002 edition of WCH was quite a spectacular tournament. Unlike the Olympic Games two years after where Brazil was clearly the sole favorite, Brazil hadn't established their dominance yet in 2002 and many teams were candidates for championship, resulting in many hard-fought and good-quality battles. Unfortunately, I've never watched a single game from the Croatian men's volleyball team, so I can't answer your question. What I recall is that they qualified as the best 2nd-ranked team in the qualification tournament (European zone) to get the ticket to Argentina. Russia was so lucky in this WCH. In the qualification tournament, they just barely clinched the last qualification among the 8 2nd-ranked teams in Europe. Then, in the first round pool play at Argentina, Russia again grabbed the last spot (4th best 3rd-ranked teams over the 6 pools) to go to the second round. Should they lose one more set in each case, they would be eliminated from the tournament early.

  • The 2002 edition of WCH was quite a spectacular tournament. Unlike the Olympic Games two years after where Brazil was clearly the sole favorite, Brazil hadn't established their dominance yet in 2002 and many teams were candidates for championship, resulting in many hard-fought and good-quality battles. Unfortunately, I've never watched a single game from the Croatian men's volleyball team, so I can't answer your question. What I recall is that they qualified as the best 2nd-ranked team in the qualification tournament (European zone) to get the ticket to Argentina. Russia was so lucky in this WCH. In the qualification tournament, they just barely clinched the last qualification among the 8 2nd-ranked teams in Europe. Then, in the first round pool play at Argentina, Russia again grabbed the last spot (4th best 3rd-ranked teams over the 6 pools) to go to the second round. Should they lose one more set in each case, they would be eliminated from the tournament early.

    I still remember what our commentator said about Russia on that opening day match (Russia's first game was against Bulgaria). They had arrived only a couple of days prior to the WCH start, which, of course, makes it very hard to adjust physically. I mean time difference, flights, preparation, a new sports hall and so on. It was all visible on the field when a, let's be honest, not super impressive Bulgarian side beat them 3-0. The next day they suffered against France, losing 1-3, and it all came down to winning impressively over Tunisia. The Africans had a good tournament actually, they played some solid volleyball and had made it difficult for both Bulgaria and France before that, losing, however, the two games in four sets. The day before facing Russia Tunisia was even close to leading 2-0 against Bulgaria, they could've made a serious upset. Russia eventually won in three, squeezed through to the next round and then we all know what happened. I also remember a not-that-great match between France and Bulgaria, the two teams played for the first place, but there was a lack of a serious sparkle. As if they didn't care much which pool they would be assigned to. It meant either advancing to a group with Brazil and traveling to a new location, or to the one with the hosts in the same hall in Buenos Aires. I still think Bulgaria made a mistake not trying more seriously to beat France and avoid Argentina and Italy in the next round, but the French team was also very strong back then.