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Utopia volleyball's strength is defense

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Posted: Thursday, September 20, 2012 1:59 pm

Consider football and you think weight. Consider basketball and you think height.

What do you think with volleyball? Height.

Utopia High School volleyball coach Amanda Dean's varsity team lost two middle blockers from last year's squad. Four varsity players are returning, so experience will be there.

“I have two seniors who are great leaders,” Dean said.

But it will be a rebuilding year.

This year's team strength is defense.

“I have been told by other opposing coaches that we hardly ever let the ball hit the ground,” Dean said.

“This year's team has an excellent team dynamic,” she said.

Utopia's varsity volleyball team is shorter since they lost two tall middle blockers from last year's team.

“Last year's team went the furthest in our district after being third place in district standings,” Dean said. “We went all the way to regional quarter finals before losing to Round Top Carmine, the 2010 State Champions.”

Many high school teams face big changes each year, with seniors graduating and sophomores coming up to varsity status. Utopia, like other small schools, has the additional problem of total number of students. There are only 14 girls who play volleyball and that's most of the high school's female population.

“We have seven players on varsity and seven players on junior varsity,” Dean said.

There are six girls on the floor playing during a game.

So everyone on the squad is busy.

Volleyball is a team sport, even so there are two very important positions on the court.

One is the setter.

“She's the quarterback of the team,” Dean said. “She sets up the ball so someone else can spike it.”

Then there's the libero. She's the designated defensive specialist. Utopia's libero stands four-foot and nine-inches tall.

“The libero is usually shorter,” Dean said. “You want the taller girls on the front row.”

The libero wears a different color uniform and is the fastest on the team.

“She has to run on the back row and get the ball,” Dean said. “The libero is the designated defensive specialist. Her only job is to pass the ball. She gets it to the setter.”

Sometimes that means she “digs” up a spike when the opposing team slams it at the floor. Then she gets it to the setter. Next, the setter gets the ball to the hitter and then, most of the time, it's spiked over the net.

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