New rule proves bigger isn’t always better

Danny Schoenbaechler

In a major rule change, NCAA volleyball has instituted a new defensive position called the libero.

The libero, pronounced LEE-bah-ro, is a player that can play only on the back row and cannot serve or attempt to block.

The position appears to have several advantages. It gives teams a chance to keep a player that is a defensive specialist and a good passer in the game. It also gives shorter players more of a chance to play major college volleyball.

“People are constantly trying to find new ways to make the game more exciting,” Western coach Travis Hudson said. “This allows smaller athletes a chance to play our game, and it will raise the overall level of play.”

Teams must designate one player as the libero prior to every match, and the player must wear a different color uniform.

Hudson said that the Hilltoppers will have the libero wear the home jersey when they are on the road, and the road jersey when the team is at home.

According to Hudson, players that have been referred to as defensive specialists can now play a more important role for the team.

“It makes it a much more vital role on the team,” he said. “I think it will make everybody better.”

Sophomore hitter Amanda Cecil agrees.

“There are some people that think it could hurt the sport, but I think it is a good thing,” she said.

The Toppers have two players that will be taking the duties of the libero: junior Tracy May and sophomore Ashly Miller. Both are proven defenders and passers for Western.

May was second on the team with 297 digs and is the top returning defender for Western. As a freshman last season, Miller tallied 188 digs.

“I think that we will have the two best liberos in the conference,” Hudson said.

And by constantly having them in play, Cecil said, the Toppers should be a stronger unit.

“I think it’s really cool that we get to keep either Tracy or Ashly in the game almost the entire match,” she said.

Miller is also excited that she’ll be more of a featured weapon in Western’s attack.

“I really like it because it gives the defensive specialist a bigger role in the game,” she said.

But one possible negative of the libero is the fact that it could give lesser teams a boost in their attempt to catch Western in the conference.

“It gives other programs a chance to challenge us,” Hudson said. “We were already such a good ball-control team that the addition could help other teams more than us.”

Miller has similar sentiments.

“I think Travis has a really good point,” she said. “We were great defensively and we already kept either Tracy or me in the game, so it won’t affect us much in that way.”

Still, Cecil remained optimistic about the new position. And the big-hitting sophomore stands to benefit perhaps more than anyone else.

“I would hate to be serving against (Tracy or Ashly) because they get everything up,” she said. “And it’s a perfect pass every time.”