I am a libero/ds graduating in 2017. This is my 2nd year playing club volleyball on a regional team, my 5th year playing volleyball. Next year and my senior year I am planning on playing for a travel team. For the past two years I have been the starting libero and I was invited to sub for a ds who couldn't make a tournament for my club's 17-2 team. I also have been taking private lessons with a former D1 coach/player.
I have been compiling a list of schools I am going to start emailing/calling in March/April and so far most of them are D3/NAIA. I would love to play for a D2 school. But as I was looking at schools I notice that many of the D2 school's I have looked at have a common trend of recruits that are 3 or 4 year varsity starters and All-District, tournament, region, conference, etc and have been playing travel for a few years. I have yet to be on my school's varsity team and I'm not starting on my school's team.
Should I stick with continuing to look at D3/NAIA programs or should I try to contact some D2 programs?
You have put forth excellent questions which reflect a positive analytical approach to the recruiting process - You are many steps ahead of way too many volleyball PSA's in trying to determine your best talent fit for college volleyball.
As a Libero, you have more time in the development and outreach process than other positions. This is a result of "Liberos are Last" in the college recruiting process. College coaches know that they can secure a very talented Libero/DS late in the recruiting process (Senior year) because there are so many talented players in this position nationwide (and internationally).
While some Libero/DS families can understandably find this timing frustrating (as they watch 6'3" monsters who can barely set a ball getting full DI scholarships), it is actually a positive in my opinion. A positive because that VolleyPSA has more time to develop their volleyball skill sets, more time to mature as a person, more time to evaluate colleges (volleyball and academics), along with less time for a coaching or conference change to occur. When a player commits to a DI as a freshman, they have 4 years of possible bad things to happen and the worst being the head coach gets fired, retires or takes another job because there is zero guarantee the new coach would honor the old coach's scholarship offer.
At this point, I would not contact colleges until the winter of your junior year. Focus instead on becoming the absolute best volleyball player you can before then. Your Talent will determine your Opportunity. If you are able to increase your skill sets, then you will increase your possibilities and a D2 (or even D1) school could well be in your future.
You reference the credentials of the college Liberos/DS's you researched, and there is some commonality to many of these collegiate athletes, but college coaches recruit talent. If you are a late bloomer, if you are from a small town, if you have the next Penn State starting Libero a year older than you, college coaches still recruit talent. If you have the talent to make their team better, then the coach will recruit you.
Winter of your junior year, after focusing on your volleyball development (club, high school, private lessons, camps/clinics), then you should reach out to all levels - DI/DII/DIII/NAIA and JC because you just don't know which level will ultimately be the best fit for you academically, athletically, financially and geographically. Don't put parameters on your future possibilities; the worst thing that can happen is a college coach deletes the email and the best thing is you find your perfect collegiate fit!!!