04/15/05 — Opinion - Rise of the Libero

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Opinion - Rise of the Libero

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on April 15, 2005 1:57 PM

Ever watched a college volleyball match in person or on TV?

One player usually wears a different-colored jersey than their teammates. That person is called a "libero" and is routinely the team's best defensive player.

The libero entered into the men's collegiate game in 2000 and appeared on the women's scene one or two seasons later. Now, high schools nationwide will either use a libero next fall or experiment with the defensive position.

The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) volleyball rules committee approved the use of the libero in high school volleyball. Ten states implemented the libero into their respective high school programs and provided positive feedback which led to the approval.

State associations, including the N.C. High School Athletic Association, have adopted the libero for 2005-06. All states must use the libero beginning 2006-07.

The use of a libero player depends on coaching strategy and is optional. But the libero is a back-row player only and cannot block, attempt to block or serve the ball. The libero may not complete an attack hit from anywhere if -- at the moment -- the ball is entirely higher than the top of the net. A teammate may not complete an attack-hit on a ball coming from an overhead pass using the fingers by the libero if the libero sets while in the front zone.

"The libero is used at all levels of volleyball," said Cynthia Doyle, assistant director of the NFHS and liaison to the volleyball rules committee. "It has improved the caliber of play, and it allows for greater on-court involvement by the team's best defensive player."

The libero can replace anyone in the back row, but not the front. When a libero is replaced in the lineup, it is not counted as a substitution, which eases the substitution rotation for front-line play. However, whoever the libero replaces can only replace the libero.

Volleyball is the third most-popular sport for girls at the high school level, with 396,322 participants, according to the 2003-04 NFHS participation survey. It also ranks third in school sponsorship for girls with more than 14,000 high schools offering the sport.

In addition, a total of 40,093 boys participated in volleyball in 2003-04 at nearly 1,700 schools.


Charles B. Aycock trails West Carteret by a scant two points in Wachovia Conference Cup competition after completion of the winter sports season in the Class 3-A Eastern Carolina Conference.

The Patriots lead the Golden Falcons 158.5 to 156.5. Eastern Wayne is third at 147, followed by South Central (134), Southern Wayne (105), Washington (97.5), Kinston (75.5), West Craven (68.5) and Goldsboro (54.5).

Rosewood is second among Carolina 1-A athletic programs and trails Farmville Central 41.5-38.5. North Johnston is one-half point behind, followed by Spring Creek (26.5), Princeton (21.5), Ayden-Grifton (20) and North Duplin (13).

Greene Central is third in the Eastern Plains 2-A with 37 points and leads archrival North Lenoir by 1.25 points. SouthWest Edgecombe is the leader with 38.75 and Tarboro is a close second at 37.75.

South Lenoir is fifth with 32 points and North Pitt is sixth with 23.75.

The Wachovia Conference Cup, sponsored annually by Wachovia Bank and the NCHSAA, recognizes high school sports programs that achieve the best overall performance within their respective athletic conferences.

In most conferences, points are awarded based on participation and standings in conference play. Each conference determines its own method of awarding points.

Wachovia has sponsored a conference awards program since 1980.

(News-Argus sports writer Rudy Coggins can be reached via e-mail at rcoggins@newsargus.com.)