I have been playing volleyball for a good 5 or 6 years, and I am a freshman in High School. When I first started playing volleyball I played OH for two years and then setter for two years, and now I switch out between MH and OH.
I am 5'6" with a 24" vertical and I am curious if I ever have a chance of playing SEC or NCAA volleyball as a front row player. I have been working out hard core since the beginning of summer to increase my vertical, and it has increased by a least a foot since then.
If I keep working and get my vertical to 30" could I actually have a chance of playing front row?
Thank you for your email. Playing at the collegiate level is a combination of height and ability; think of it as a sliding scale (for simplicity, I will lump athleticism into ability). The elite level DI volleyball players have both height and ability; they are on the taller side and they are very good.
There are over 1600+ women's college volleyball teams in the USA. The key factor for any recruit, is to properly match their height/ability to the corresponding college volleyball category. While so many good high school volleyball players want to play for Nebraska, or Penn State or Florida or Stanford, the vast majority of these recruits will not posses the height and ability to do so.
With regards to your questions; it would be a challenge to play in the SEC or upper NCAA Division I as a 5'6" attacker. I am not saying it is impossible, as we have seen "shorter" OH's recently on the elite programs, but these "shorter" OH's are 5'9"+ and have outstanding abilities - they pass perfect, play great defense, jump very high, have a variety of attacks and speeds, etc.
But, a 5'6" OH with a 30" attack jump, and good all around skills, would garner attention from lower ranked NCAA DI teams, along with many, many NCAA Division II and NAIA programs. In addition, the odds of you actually being on the court playing, are much better at the lower levels than at the elite level. Top rated DI volleyball is height driven, and college coaches are recruiting that OH who has very good abilities, jumps 30" and is also 6'3" tall!
I encourage you to focus more on your abilities, rather than focus on your vertical. If you jump high, but can't pass, can't hit line, can't go high off the blocks hands, can't chop angle, can't roll shot, can't block the slide, then jumping high really won't help you get to your goal level.
My final bit of experience advice, is to not get mentally slotted into a certain level or conference. I know many DI players who had a miserable collegiate experience because of the time demands, the pressure to perform, the coaching changes, etc. Conversely, I know many elite level players who chose DII/NAIA and had great experience which they would not have changed for anything!
Good luck this club season!