Publication Date


Type of Culminating Activity


Degree Title

Master of Science in Exercise and Sport Studies, Biophysical Studies



Major Advisor

Lynda Ransdell, Ph.D.


Introduction: The game of volleyball, which requires power, strength, speed, agility, and anaerobic fitness, is played around the world. A performance divide is evident between high school and collegiate volleyball athletes, and the physiologic differences have not been extensively studied. Because sport specific test performance data are not available, performance deficits in high school athletes are not well understood. Players striving to improve volleyball performance need clear expectations of skill and performance measures to succeed at higher levels of competition. There are extremely limited data available for female volleyball players that specifically describe how physiological performance test data may vary by position. Purpose: The purpose of this study was to examine physiologic performance differences between high school athletes and Division I collegiate athletes and by player position in four specific tests that are related to volleyball performance. Participants: Female participants from four Varsity high school volleyball teams and two Division I collegiate volleyball teams were recruited for the study. Participants were recruited through the head coach at each of the chosen six schools. Methods: Participants completed four performance-based field tests after completing a standardized dynamic warm-up. The Vertical Jump test, which assesses lower body power, was measured with a Vertec system. The Agility T-Test, which assesses agility, was measured using four cones in a T-shaped pattern and a laser timing device. A 150-Yard as well as a 300-Yard Shuttle run, measures of anaerobic capacity, were assessed using two cones and a laser timing device. All tests were completed as recommended by the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), from the least fatiguing to most fatiguing test. Each of the performance-based test results was analyzed for each skill grouping (High school and college) and for 3 groupings of positions (setters, hitters, and back row defense). Data Analysis: Multiple one-way ANOVAs were conducted with a Bonferroni adjustment for potential inflation of type I error due to multiple comparisons among variables. The statistical analysis was completed using SPSS version 18.0 to examine differences in test performance scores calculated for test by team, position, as well as for the skill grouping (high school varsity and collegiate Division I). Results: The most important findings of this study were that: (a) college volleyball athletes were older (19.65 ± 1.64 yrs, p< 0.01), heavier (69.96 ± 7.72 kg, p< 0.01), and taller (176.88 ± 6.03 cm, p< 0.01), than their high school counterparts. (b) compared to collegiate athletes, high school athletes had performance deficiencies in the Vertical Jump (HS: 47.58 ± 8.22 cm, DI: 52.95 ± 6.59 cm, p< 0.05), Lower Body Power (HS: 3592.3 ± 522.82 W, DI: 4160.67 ± 598.34 W, p< 0.05), and the 150-Yard Shuttle Run (HS: 29.73 ± 6.20 sec, DI: 28.67 ± 5.98 sec, p<0.05); (c) there were no differences found between Agility T-Test and 300-Yard Shuttle Run shuttle when collegiate athletes were compared to their high school counterparts; (d) Lower Body Power was the only statistically significant difference in the performance test measures by player position (Hitter: 1070.36 ± 139.47 W, Setter: 1131.36 ± 163.94 W, and Back Row Defense: 881.83 ± 120.54 W, p< 0.0005) and (e) the 150-Yard Shuttle Run did not demonstrate convergent validity with the 300-Yard Shuttle Run in volleyball players (r= 0.488). Conclusion: While there are several significant performance differences by level of play (e.g., High School versus Collegiate players), there was only one significant difference in physical performance by position (e.g., Hitter, Setter, Back Row Defense,): Lower Body Power. This indicates that high school and collegiate volleyball athletes have different performance levels, especially in lower body power and anaerobic capacity, and that high school athletes who aspire to play collegiate Division I volleyball should consider improving their strength and conditioning programs to achieve better scores in volleyball-specific performance measures. Additionally, Back Row Defensive players have less Lower Body Power than Hitters or Setters. More research needs to be performed in order to fully understand the relationship of the 150 and 300-Yard Shuttle run in relationship to each other, and the ability of the 300-Yard Shuttle run to predict anaerobic capacity in female volleyball athletes. These specific comparative values create a baseline performance measure that now may better equip strength and conditioning coaches to create programs that would address deficits in player performance.