Points/Set – 5 Years of Data

I wanted to continue to look into Team Points/Set (P/S) numbers after my original post. (Side note: I made a critical mistake in my original post, which I now detail at the top of it.) I decided to pull down the statistics for every DIII team over the last 5 years. As a reminder Points is calculated by adding in your kills, service aces and blocks (assists count as ½ point and solos count as a full point). To get P/S, you simply divide that number by the sets played. P/S basically tells us the number of points in a set that you were responsible. If you assume you won with 25 points then a P/S average of 18 means that 7 other points were caused by errors from the other team.

In 2019, three teams reached 18+ P/S – Colorado College (18.254), nation champion Johns Hopkins (18.235) and Calvin (18.220). Seventeen teams were in the 17+ P/S range. Fifty teams were in the 16+ P/S range. It shouldn’t be surprising that most of our NCAA Tournament teams came out of these 70 teams. Because of this I sort of focused on 16 P/S as being the number to strive for if your program has NCAA Tournament aspirations.

In case you were interested, NVU-Lyndon had the lowest P/S at 0.863! (Pine Manor was next lowest at 3.10.) You really needed to get to 14.5 P/S to have any chance at having a “good” season. There were 16 teams that received Pool A bids (conference automatic qualifier) with a P/S under 16. The lowest of these teams was Westfield State with 13.518. There were only 4 teams that received Pool C bids (at-large) that were under 16. These were Wis.-Whitewater (15.471), Wittenberg (15.652), Carnegie Mellon (15.798) and Wis.-Eau Claire (15.8772). Marymount, the Pool B (independent) representative came in at 16.047. The team with the highest P/S number that did NOT get into the tournament was MIT with 17.170.

So, by eyeballing the data, I sort of determined that you want to get to 14.5 P/S to be respectable and take it to 16 to have a chance for the NCAA Tournament. Getting to 16.5 P/S seems to put you in a good position for an at-large bid but there are exceptions (like MIT). Of course, P/S has nothing to do with the selection criteria and scheduling poorly could at the same time help you with P/S while hurting you in important criteria that will actually get you into the tournament. Since I concentrate on the West Region, there were a number of teams I was familiar with that fell into this last group. Schools like Concordia Texas (16.6.01), McMurry (16.526), UMHB (16.525) and Chapman (16.454). I complained a lot about the McMurry schedule last season and have written about how Chapman basically scheduled themselves out of the tournament. Of course, by scheduling more difficult teams, maybe these teams see their P/S drop? UMHB actually had a really good schedule but they just couldn’t win the match or two that would have pushed them over the top. So, I guess I’m saying that P/S seems to be really important to the success of a team, but you still have to win the matches.

Another statistical item I eyeballed was how the teams rise and fall from year to year. Most teams are pretty consistent and stay within +- 1 P/S. Adrian, out of the MIAA, is alphabetically first and their largest rise or drop was a drop from 2016 to 2017 of -0.780 P/S. Their 2019 number is just under 0.23 P/S from 2015. I then decided to flag teams that had a rise or fall from one season to the next of +- 1 P/S. There wasn’t a team that had risen or dropped all four years (five years of data but only four differences, if that makes sense) by at least 1 P/S, but Caltech has risen the last three seasons to go from 8.294 P/S in 2016 to 14.282 P/S this past season. This, of course, got me to thinking which are the programs that have improved the most since 2015.

Looking at the teams that have improved at least 6 P/S from 2015 are Cedar Crest and Eastern Nazarene. Eastern Nazarene has gone from 3-26 record in 2015 to a conference championship and NCAA Tournament bid this past season. In 2015 their P/S was 8.11 and this past season it has climbed to 14.518. You really have to give a ton of credit to Head Coach Derek Schmitt and assistant Hannah Maynard. Cedar Crest has gone from a 7.882 P/S in 2015 to 14.929 this past season and takes the crown of biggest jump. Huge kudos to Head Coach Shelby Morgan. Quite frankly, if I’m an AD reading this article, I would put these two head coaches on any short list for a future position. With me being the negative sort, I did have to look at the biggest drops since 2015. This list includes Anna Maria, Trinity (Washington) and NVU-Lyndon, who has the dubious distinction of having the worst drop (-9.459 P/S).

Finally, I decided to look at programs that for the last 5 years have maintained a 16 P/S for each year. Here are the schools:  Baldwin-Wallace, Berry, Bowdoin, Calvin, Christopher Newport, CMS, Colorado College, Emory, Gustavus Adolphus, Hope, Ithaca, MIT, Northwest-St. Paul, Ohio Northern, Texas-Dallas and Washington-St. Louis. A couple of surprises in there but these are your consistent power programs for the most part.

There is a ton of information to gleam from this data but overall, you find that most teams sort of ebb and flow from year to year but stay within a set range. I’ll probably do at least one more article on this as I want to look at the Final 4 teams and see what the “normal” P/S number is. I may dive into the West Region specifically at a later date, too. If you are interested in a particular school, let me know in the comments.

Note – Dropping this article on a Thursday afternoon because I fear tomorrow is going to be wicked.


4 thoughts on “Points/Set – 5 Years of Data

    1. La Verne (SCIAC) 2019 (15.5189) 2018 (16.34112) 2017 (15.6239) 2016 (17.4) 2015 (16.543689) Difference from 2015 = -1.0248

      Interesting tidbits…NCAA Tournament year of 2016 had a nice P/S. Dropped almost 2 P/S the next year (lost Kelsi Robinson). Had a down year last season but it could have been so much worse based on what they lost to graduation and to other defection.


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