Stephen Lee - BeachStats Analyst In September the King of the Court returned to Utrecht for the European Finals. Featuring some of the best teams European beach volleyball has to offer, the competition was fierce. In a game all about offense and creating opportunities to score, what does the breakdown look like between the type of attacks used that makes the best players so successful? We examined the balance of soft attacks (shots and cut attacks) and hard-swing attacks that players utilized. In this article we focus on the most successful challengers.
A huge thank you to BeachData for recording the stats from Utrecht. Statistics are a small part of the equation that can help to tell a poignant story and to set the stage for compelling matchups. Before we examine the players’ tendencies between soft and hard attacks, let's start by understanding how teams performed from the Challenger side and the King/Queen side of the court (Kings referring to men's and Queens referring to women's).
A huge part of the game is surviving the challenger’s side and getting to the King's side to gain points. In the last King of the Court article, we discussed the successful challenge rate, defined as how often the serving team successfully makes it to the King’s side. In the last King of the Court in Hamburg, the average successful challenge rate across men and women was 34.5%, compared to 33.8% in the European finals in Utrecht. With less than one percentage point difference, it is interesting to analyze these observations and it shows how close the competition is.
The men recorded a 32.1% successful challenge rate, and the women recorded a 35.6%. Below, we have the three teams with the highest successful challenge rates for men and women.
The Dutch pair of Boehlé and Sengers led the men's field with a 42.3% successful challenge rate but were knocked out in the first round of pool play and then again in the second chance fifth-place playoff match. With some tough opponents in Pool B however, they were the first team eliminated.
Wickler and Sagstetter were a fun team to watch as they made a deep run through the event. The Germans had a 39.8% successful challenge rate, which proved to be a difference-maker in their game as Wickler and Sagstetter made a deep run to the semifinals. While their successful challenge rate is lower than the Dutch team, the German pair had a much bigger sample size of 108. Impressive to see a consistent rate that is higher than the Men’s average successful challenge rate.
After winning the CEV European Championship event in August, the Swedes Åhman and Hellvig came in looking to add another European title to their collection. With a 39.1% successful challenge rate, they capitalized on many defensive opportunities as they battled to a second-place finish. It is interesting how closely grouped they are with a little over 3 percentage points separating the top three teams.
The women averaged a higher successful challenge rate than the men, 35.6% compared to 32.1%. Huberli and Brunner finished with the highest successful challenge rate of the event at 47.2%. The exciting Netherlands team of Stam and Schoon has been a frequent contender all year on the FIVB tour, and their eleventh-place finish in Utrecht was not what they were looking for. The pair put up some great stats, however, one of which was a successful challenge rate of 45.9%. Borger and Laborer were not far off and the winners on the Women’s side with 43.5%.
Next time we'll tell you all about the side-out in Utrecht, check it out!