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The Lo-Down: How Setters Signal
Photo Credit: Aaron Babcock

The Lo-Down: How Setters Signal

September 26, 2017

The term “signal caller” isn’t just for quarterbacks. It applies to setters, too, and today we’re going to examine how setters signal in plays and how to know what’s coming next when watching a match.

Setters will signal to the attackers what kind of set they’re hoping to execute, if the team is in system, before each rally. Those not on the attack have to pay attention as well because the signal will tell them who needs to cover the hitter defensively and help them make sure they stay out of the way of the attack.

Here is what Nebraska’s setters are telling their teammates with their hand signals:

GO SET: If the setter is holding up her index finger and thumb in the classic “finger gun” formation she’s calling for a go set. If the pass is on target and the team is in system, the setter will set the ball outside to the left pin.

RIP SET: The index finger is extended but curved to resemble a lowercase ‘R’. A rip set is similar to the go set, but the ball is put inside of the pin giving the hitter a slightly different angle of attack.

3: The setter holds up three fingers. This is a wide, quick-tempo set to the middle attacker. The ball is set in the direction the setter is facing.

1: The setter holds up one finger. This is an inside, quick-tempo set in the direction the setter is facing.

DOG: The setter extends only her pinky (pictured above). This is another quick-tempo set, but this one happens behind the setter and all the way to the pin. You might know it as a slide.

JET: The setter extends her index and pinky fingers. If the team is in system, the setter will set to the right-side hitter.

PIPE: The setter extends her thumb and pinky in the famous Hawaiian “hang loose” sign. Here she will set the middle-back defender and the hitter will attack from behind the 10-foot line.

If you watch closely, you’ll see the setter using one of these hand signals before each serve. Now use that information to impress your friends and fellow volleyball fans by predicting the future the next time you're watching a match.

Want more of The Lo-Down? Find all of Lauren's previous columns here.

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