A libero is a defensive specialist position in indoor volleyball. The position was added to the game of indoor volleyball in 1999 along with a set of special rules for play in order to foster more digs and rallies and to make the game more exciting overall.
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The DS position in volleyball is the defensive specialist. This is one of the roles on the team along with the setter, the middle blocker, the outside hitter, opposite hitter, and the libero. Defensive specialists are the players that have sound passing skills and great digging.
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A libero, also known as a defensive specialist, is a position in indoor volleyball characterized as consistent, quick, and an excellent ball handler. Liberos remain in the game at all times, and are the only players on the court not limited by the number of rotations. They typically replace the middle blocker when it is their turn to go into the back row.
The key difference between the libero and defensive specialists is that defensive specialists can play any spot on the court. while a libero will sub out after rotating through the back row, a defensive specialist can technically stay in and play the front row if needed.
In simple terms of the definition of the position, a DS or a defensive specialist is a player in volleyball who is a substitute for the back row players. The defensive specialist is often one that has the same qualities as a libero in terms of their ability to pass and defend during the game.
Defensive specialist/libero is next and a group where all three student-athletes are likely to have a role during the 2021 season. Nebraska volleyball libero Kenzie Knuckles and defensive specialist Keonilei Akana (Maddie Washburn, Nebraska Communications)
Since liberos are a special type of Defensive Specialist, liberos cannot attack the ball when it is completely above the plane of the net. This also means that liberos cannot block. This is why most liberos do not jump when they attack the ball. No matter how short you are, sometimes it’s better safe than sorry.
So if you are taking plays off during practice or not giving your full effort because you are "just a Defensive Specialist", you are shooting yourself in the foot. Experience. Behind the Setter, the Libero is a key leadership position.