December 18, 2014

College volleyball recruiting and the Libero Position

My daughter is a senior and was the starting libero this year on her school team. She helped lead her team to the 3rd round of playoffs with an area championship in 6A. She is very passionate about volleyball and wants to play in college.  She was not a starter last year on hs team and was only on a 2nd national team at her club.  

She didn't really start the recruiting process until this year.  She has reached out to some coaches only to find out they have already recruited for 2015.  She will more than likely be on the top team this club season. She will be attending some tryouts for some jc and one D3 school.  She had an amazing year. But afraid she may be a late bloomer in the volleyball college scene. 

Any suggestions for her?


There is still a lot of time left on the senior recruiting clock, especially for the Libero/Defensive Specialist position.  

As I have written in Inside College Volleyball, this is the crazy time of college volleyball - College Volleyball coaches are being fired, hired, retired, etc. All of this results in massive roster changes; immediate and into the spring.  Back in the day of $1 gasoline, a coaching change was not a big deal for the security of the players.  But, in today's collegiate atmosphere, a coaching change means massive player instability!

How does this affect your daughter?  This crazy time will mean more opportunities for her this winter and spring, versus when she was reaching out to college coaches in the fall.

It is also the crazy time of college volleyball because post season player meetings occur now and at the start of the winter semester - Players get cut by their coach, players quit because they are homesick (mom's cooking, familiar surroundings, boyfriends (shudder)), players flunk out, the medical staff tells the coach a player may have a season/career ending injury.

How does this affect your daughter?  See above.

In my recruiting education talks for NCSA Athletic Recruiting, I will humorously say that "Liberos are Last" in the college volleyball process.  While humorous, it is generally the truth.  In any graduating class recruiting effort, college coaches will focus on the attackers first, the setters next and always the liberos last.  

All of the above examples (college coaching changes, post season player meetings and libero recruiting timing) create the situation where libero families must be consistent and patient in their recruiting outreach.  What 'was' last summer and this fall, is not what 'is' right now - Keep reaching out, keep managing the process because an opportunity for a libero may only come open for one week, and if you are not consistent in your outreach, then another libero who was, will get that opportunity.

There is a small silver lining to this Libero is Last timing - Even though it can be stressful on families, the late commitment/signing of liberos means that there is less of a chance that something will go wrong before an incoming libero starts school.  There is more craziness in collegiate athletics than ever before, and those players which may commit as freshman, have to endure 4 years of possible changes before their daughter gets to school.  Not only 4 years of possible changes, but to say that a player as a freshman is the same person (personality, desires, maturity, educational goals, etc) that she is as a senior is just false.  This is such an important, once in a lifetime decision, that the more mature the player and the more educated/experienced the family, the better the outcome.

To wrap this up in a nice Holiday bow; keep reaching out to college volleyball programs which are the best fit (academically, athletically, geographically, financially), send video often and manage the process.

Coach Sonnichsen

December 15, 2014

Walk On to Volleyball Scholarship Question #1456

Friends daughter is doing nicely as a frosh at a Big East school.   They offered her two (2) of four (4) years.  She is 5’ 0”, defensive player, seems to be a great fit.  Has played plenty this current year, hopes to take over the libero job one day.

Friend wants to ask coaches for an additional year?  He has not asked yet.  He is asking me what I think.  I suggested your blog.

I’m sure you’ve heard this question a million times.



No harm in your friend asking but the odds are that the answer will be NO.  Libero's are cheap and no matter how well a VolleyFamily may think that their daughter is doing in the position, there is always another Libero out there who will do just as well for less financial support.

Economics 101 comes into play with Liberos - Supply exceeds demand.  There is a deep supply of quality liberos; athletes who have played that position since day one, shorter setters with good ball control, short OH's with good ball control, managers who now want to play, etc.  The Libero position seems to be the catch all for volleyball positions in general - Not tall enough?  Play Libero.  Don't jump too high?  Play Libero.  Not enough power on the attack?  Play Libero.  Pony tail not long enough?  Play Libero.

This economic reality results in DI college coaches being able to manage liberos on partial career scholarships - The term I use, is "walk on to scholarship".  The cut throat college volleyball coaches will make the same deal with a number of liberos and the one who rises to the top after a couple of years, actually gets the athletic scholarship while the others get cut.  

Back to my answer, tell your friend to ask but not to expect.  And, also tell you friend's daughter to keep playing hard every year because the "walk on to scholarship" promise is nothing more than words; if she is not playing at a high level, if she is not contributing as the top defensive player, then there is no guarantee of those last two year's being paid.