2019-09-30 14:00:00 CEST

#Spiketember: The art of hitting on two

Several teams are not using all their tree touches to score points – and here’s how they do it

Brandie Wilkerson is one of the most efficient hitters on two among the womenBrandie Wilkerson is one of the most efficient hitters on two among the women

Pass, set, spike.

The typical offensive sequence of actions in beach volleyball is well-known by those who ever watched a match. However, as the sport evolves new strategies are created and arguably none has been more used recently than spiking on two.

In this variation of the traditional offensive routine, the player who gets the first contact, normally a pass or a dig, sets his partner up right away, putting him in position to spike the ball on the team’s second contact.

The surprise factor is the main advantage of this strategy as while the defending team is still getting in position for a spike on the third touch, the attacking duo has the possibility of catching them off guard and put the ball on the sand.

“I’ve been playing for 20 years and I just started doing it this year,” American three-time Olympic gold medalist Kerri Walsh Jennings said. “It keeps the blocker guessing and makes the other team uncertain, which always helps you. It used to intimidate me to even try it because I didn’t want to make a mistake. But I want to be a point-scorer, so going over on two is a great option, especially when you have someone passing the ball like Brooke.”

Be it with power or finesse, Walsh Jennings doesn't hesitate when she has a chance to score on twoBe it with power or finesse, Walsh Jennings doesn't hesitate when she has a chance to score on two

Spiking on two can also be used to help a struggling partner. If a player is going through a difficult moment in a match or is extremely tired or injured, instead of spending more energy on passing and jumping to spike, he’ll just put the ball up and let his partner hammer it down.

“Most of the times when I do it it’s to help Bruno,” Brazilian 2017 world champion Evandro Goncalves explained. “He gets a lot of serves every match, so anytime I can hit on two, score the point faster and reduce his workload, that’s a good thing for us. We’ve been using it a lot and I can tell teams are studying that part of our game, so we want to keep trying evolving it.”

The strategy works at is best when it’s executed by right-handed spiker coming from the left side or a left-handed hitter moving from the right. The second case is the one of Canadian rising star Brandie Wilkerson, one of the most recurrent users of the tactics among the women.

“It’s definitely part of our style, it keeps us on our game,” the best blocker of the 2018 World Tour season commented. “We try to be aggressive all the time and that’s one of the options we have to score points. We like to stay dynamic and when we’re doing it teams have a lot to look out for. The more tools we can add to our offense the better and this is one we’re trying to keep developing.”

Evandro's height makes his life easier when hitting on two (Photocredit: FIVB)Evandro's height makes his life easier when hitting on two (Photocredit: FIVB)

The spiking on two can play be done is several different ways to keep the defense on their toes and that also demands a high level of attention from the hitter.

“Bruno can set me up in a lot of different ways for a spike on two, so the most important thing is to be alert and aware of my positioning,” Evandro reflected. “Sometimes we do it when it’s a quick pass that went well towards the net, other times it goes higher a couple of meters off the net. And if it’s a free ball and Bruno has better control of it, then there’s more variation – we try to play faster and use the entire width of the net to confuse our opponents.”

Besides of all that, there’s still the moral effect of a successful on two play.

“It’s also a good way to just show your strength,” Kerri added. “You can be either finesse or powerful, but it’s a good way to kind of intimidate your opponent.”

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