When you see a player in a different color uniform than the rest of her teammates on the volleyball court this season, it’s not because she bought the wrong outfit. The new uniform is part of a change the NCAA implemented in collegiate volleyball for the 2002 season: the addition of a position called the libero.
The libero can replace any back-row player without counting against a team’s 12 substitutions per game and is differentiated with a different color uniform.
The position allows a team to have a good ball controller on the court at all times and gives freshmen and sophomores more playing time.
The libero was first used in international competition at the 1998 World Championships and first appeared in the college ranks when Division I men’s teams began using the position in 2000.
GW volleyball head coach Jojit Coronel said his team’s offense and ball control will benefit from the new position because it allows his best ball control player to stay on the court at all times.
The libero is not allowed to serve or attempt to block or attack a ball that is completely above the net. If she leaves the game, she must stay on the bench for an entire rally before being able to replace a back row player. The player replaced by the libero must be the player to re-enter when the libero leaves the game.
Though the coach can designate a new libero before each game of a match, the Colonials have only used one player at the new position, 5’8″ freshman Jessica Vesey.
Vesey, a former outside hitter/defensive specialist, led her Poway, Calif. high school team to a second-place finish in California’s Palomar League. Though Vesey’s high school team did not have a libero, she did play the position for her club team, Coast.
Coronel said having Vesey at libero ads more chemistry to the team than if she played defensive specialist.
“She could play (defensive specialist) but as the libero she is just so helpful because she can always be in the game and we don’t have to eat a substitute,” Coronel said.