To Bakersfield College volleyball coach Carl Ferreira, statistics are constant and indisputable. Kills, aces and errors can all be measured.
“We pay attention to all the things that move the scoreboard,” he said.
From statistics, Ferreira has developed a standard he holds his team to. Every game — and in the broader picture of the season — he wants the Renegades to “triple the negative.” The statistics have also revealed that this year’s team has thrived in terms of efficiency. That’s what’s led to a 14-4 start to the season and a No. 6 ranking in the state.
BC’s next game is at home against Canyons College on Friday at 6 p.m.
“We have definitely, statistically, been a very efficient team all year and you got to train that way,” Ferreira said.
Tripling the negative means Ferreira wants his team’s earned points — kills, aces and blocks — to be at least three times its number of errors.
The Renegades beat Antelope Valley College in three sets (25-17, 25-10, 25-13) on Oct. 11 in their first Western State South Conference match. BC made 14 errors in the game and earned 63 points. Taking into account the opponent errors, the Renegades outdid Ferreira’s standard.
As of Oct. 12, BC has averaged 16.6 earned points per set and 5.4 errors per set for the season. The Renegades are sixth in California in points per set and fifth with a .299 hitting percentage.
In practice, Ferreira’s standard translates into a drill that pits one half of the team against the other. Each kill is worth one point. Each error costs a team two points.
“In the past, I’ll have teams where we got to grind and grind and grind to get to that point,” Ferreira said, “but we have been good straight out of the gates with this particular team.”
"They also focus on late-set situations," freshman setter Sarah Armendariz said.
The efficiency goes beyond just points in relation to errors in a set. As of Oct. 12, 11 of BC’s wins have been three-set sweeps including four in a row.
Preseason practices were “a little shaky,” sophomore outside hitter Alex Paris said, and Ferreira wasn’t sure what the first game would bring. But BC rolled MiraCosta College — which it lost to last year — in three sets.
“I can distinctly remember in that first match our team was kind of amped up to start and you could just feel them kind of settle in and go, ‘Hey, I think we’re gonna be pretty good,’” Ferreira said.
Paris shoulders much of the offensive load with a team-high 3.38 kills per set and 28 service aces. Sophomore middle blocker Brooke Horack is the most efficient hitter on the team with a conference-best .469 hitting percentage. Paris’ is second at .348.
Paris generally handles harder balls on the outside, a factor in her lower hitting percentage, and wants to improve to 4.0 kills per set by the end of the season. Because she doesn’t get time to work on hitting by herself on a net, that means extra time in the weight room and doing agility drills so she can jump to the ball quicker.
BC’s most important match of the year, and of Ferreira’s career, had nothing to do with statistics. Three players survived the mass shooting in Las Vegas on Oct. 1 at the Route 91 Harvest Festival. They returned to Bakersfield on Oct. 3 and beat Santa Monica on Oct. 4.
“Sometimes we get caught up placing so much emphasis on performance and results and all this kind of stuff,” Ferreira said. “It really kind of puts you back a little bit to understand that the most important success we should have is just as grateful people and seeing the human spirit at work. That volleyball match was a therapeutic match for those ladies and for our team.”
Jon Mettus can be reached at 661-395-7389. Follow him on Twitter at @jmettus.