Taking new liberties with Libero
After two years of going through the experimentation process in high school volleyball, the Libero position is here to stay.Use of the Libero, also known as the defensive specialist, is now part of the National Federation of High Schools’ rulebook and can be used by high school teams all over the country starting this season.
The Colorado High School Activities Association first introduced Libero at the high school level in 2004, when a select number of states, including Colorado, were allowed to try the position in preseason and tournament matches. Then last season, Colorado was one of 10 states to introduce the “Transitioning to Libero Player” program where teams could put players at Libero during the regular season, but not during any round of the postseason.Now, Libero will be in full force preseason, regular season and postseason. Libero is very specialized and only fits in for certain teams if they have the right person to do the job, according to Coal Ridge girls volleyball coach Denise Greene. Greene was unsure of how many teams would use the position in its inaugural high school season, but she plans on using it, as does Rifle head coach Geneva Farr.
“The Libero is a great player and makes the game faster. We used it last year and in the second half of our season and we saw progressive defense,” Farr said. “We were able to stick somebody in that position to play the ball. (We) have three or four players who can play that this year.”Whoever suits up as the Libero, which requires wearing a different-colored jersey from their teammates, is responsible for taking on a lot of the passing duties and being in the right place at the right time. They can’t attack, block or attempt to block, but, like a safety in football, have the freedom to roam.More than one Libero can be designated on a roster for each match, and they can be listed at other positions as well – they just have to have a Libero jersey and a regular jersey and be able to switch depending on what they are playing at that time. However, only one Libero can be on the court for each team at one time. The Libero has to be substituted in as a backrow player, but, unlike other positions on the court, there is no limit to substitutions of Liberos.
Even though the Libero is now officially in the rulebooks, it doesn’t mean teams have to use it. Kacey Daugherty, the head coach at Roaring Fork High School, is going to experiment with the position.”It’s not going to be in full effect for us this year, but we’re going to try and play with it and see how it works,” Daugherty said.The other major change from NFHS won’t be implemented on the volleyball court; instead, it will be seen, or not seen, on the football field. Beginning this season, NFHS has removed the option to use a “planned loose ball,” also known as the fumblerooskie.The rule disallows players from intentionally fumbling the ball in an attempt to move it forward. In the past, the play was used as a desperation ploy where several players seemingly lose control of the ball and bobble it with their hands and/or feet to advance it forward. Another minor rule was put into place by the NFHS, stating that “mouth guards shall be of any readily visible color, other than white and clear.”
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Down 14-7 with less than 11 minutes left in regulation, Rifle head coach Todd Casebier decided it was time to deviate from his ground-and-pound offense for a bit of an aerial attack.