Bell's move to middle ignites Volleyball offense
Oct. 26, 2011
AUSTIN, Texas -- Khat Bell is hard to contain, often talking at a pace that would make even the most seasoned courtroom stenographer a little nervous.
The opposition at the net can likely relate. Since moving over to the middle blocker position four matches ago, the freshman from Mesquite, Texas, is hitting .358 while averaging 1.38 blocks per set.
Last Saturday's sweep victory against visiting Missouri highlighted Bell's high-powered efficiency, as she tallied a match-high 11 kills on just 12 swings.
Bell's move to the middle was sparked by Sha'Dare McNeal's return to the full rotation after recovering from a knee injury sustained in UT's season-opening match. McNeal took over at her comfortable position on the right side, and Bailey Webster, who is averaging a team-high 3.85 kills per set during this four-match span, has solidified her spot on the left.
That allowed Bell to move into the middle with senior Rachael Adams. Bell played the middle blocker position through high school and is comfortable with those quick-timed sets.
"The main thing I was worried about coming into the middle was blocking, so I've been practicing that," said Bell, who is averaging 2.58 kills per set on the season. "I think I can see the court better too."
As one of the most physical players on a roster full of physicality, Bell thrives with the intensity of the middle -- hounding the net, tracking the ball and using her body to defend it.
"She's closing the block, nice and over (the net), and that's key for us," Adams said. "She's also bringing a presence in the middle, getting fired up and our team needs that. I'm confident when I leave the court that she's going to pick it up and keep it there."
Bell is also reaping the rewards of a specific nuance related to a middle blocker's swing. Only the crispest of passes get converted into sets to the middle, because those require such rhythm and timing.
"Outside hitters sometimes get dealt the crazy sets, the crazy plays, because that's the only option (with some passes)," setter Hannah Allison said. "The number of sets (Bell) gets might be lower, but they're all going to be in system. And she can see the court, so she has a lot more chances to score with the chances she's getting."
But it's still on Bell's shoulders to convert those swings, and her efficiency highlights the Longhorns' efficiency during these last four victories. As a team, UT is hitting .372, while using 2.38 blocks per set to hold the opposition to just .126 hitting.
"It's nice to see some of the balance we are getting and the way that Khat Bell is able to continue to get better and better," head coach Jerritt Elliott said. "Over the past four matches, our numbers are really, really impressive. But we are not near where we need to be."