Even more than basketball teams, the girls’ volleyball squads usually get the tallest girls in schools. The modern volleyball game is usually won or lost by how well teams play at the net, spiking and blocking, which is why volleyball puts a premium on long, tall girls.
But the game has evolved to such an extent that there is also a place for players not gifted with height and stature.
Tall, towering girls are usually the stars of every ladies volleyball team. But the Libero, usually the shortest girl in the lineup, like Jen Reyes (extreme right) of the Meralco Power Spikers plays a crucial role in the game. The Power Spikers are competing the Shakey’s V-League Season 10 Open Conference at The Arena in San Juan.
In the ongoing Shakey’s V-League tall girls like Maureen Penetrante-Ouano, Jovelyn Gonzaga, Charo Soriano and Mary Jean Balse provide plenty of fireworks when they hammer down booming spikes from above the net.
But diminutive, lightning quick girls like Melissa Gohing, Angelique Dionela and Jen Reyes also perform jaw-dropping stunts with their fearless dives to save points at the defensive end as well as their composed receiving of booming serves.
This was made possible by the new volleyball rules creating a specialized defensive player called the Libero. who is restricted to performing as a back row player and cannot make attack hits when the ball is above the height of the top of the net. The Libero cannot serve, block or attempt to block. Because of that limitation they are focused on their job which is floor coverage.
And to make sure of a faster more fluid game, substitutions involving a Libero are not counted as regular and their number is unlimited. A Libero takes the floor not as part of normal substitutions and may enter or leave the game every time the ball is out of play and before the whistle for service.
Because of this critical rule fans may now gasp in awe when a player dives fearlessly into the concrete floor of The Arena at San Juan to save a point.
Meet the best best Liberos of the Shakey’s V-League Season 10 Open Conference.
It’s not unusual for Liberos to dive face first into the concrete floor when trying to save wayward drop shots or even volleyballs hurtling to the ground driven by powerful spikes. Here Angelique Dionela (No. 3) fearless throws her body to the ground trying to save a volleyball.
Gohing of the Smart-Maynilad Net Spikers is a five-time champion Libero with De La Salle University in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines. Volleyball fans should have probably seen the last of her when she completed her UAAP playing days.
Luckily for us die-hard volleyball addicts Smart-Maynilad Net Spikers coach Roger Gorayeb thought to bring her back to action when he assembled his undermanned though star-studded lineup which streaked to three straight victories before they were tripped by the Cagayan Valley Rising Stars.
Smart-Maynilad setter Rubie De Leon orchestrated their offense masterfully, Suzanne Roces and Soriano were dominant at the net, but a big part of that three-game winning streak was also because of Gohing’s reliable serve-receive as well as her fearless floor coverage, saving points that normally should have been lost.
The Cagayan Valley Rising Suns have not yet lost a game in the Shakey’s V-League Season 10 Open Conference. Why not when they have the swashbuckling Thai teenager Kannika Thipachot, Aiza Maiza and Angeli Tabaquero hammering down kills from across the net. They also have another Thai reinforcement in Phomla Soraya masterfully setting up their attackers as setter.
To cap it all off they also have Dionela who garnered the Athlete of the Year award upon her graduation from the University of Perpetual Help System Dalta in the National Collegiate Athletic Association. The Pasig City native is a two-time league Best Digger awardee in the National Collegiate Athletic Association and also the Best Receiver in the league last season.
Her steady floor defense also helped the Lady Altas win back-to-back NCAA Women’s Volleyball crowns.
Finally, there is the queen Libero in the Shakey’s V-League in Reyes who helped National University win its first Shakey’s V-League just this past conference.
Jen Reyes, as libero of the Meralco Power Spikers, plays the first line of defense of Meralco as the player who receives the serves of the other teams.
Reyes is the league’s most tenacious digger and most reliable receiver of serves. She is composed and almost seems to pounce on opponent’s serve, not just receiving the ball as actually directing the ball with full control to her setter to start their attack.
She won best digger and best receiver in the UAAP playing for National University helping lead her school from obscurity to prominence. Of course it helped that she had six-footers in the Santiago siblings at the forefront of the NU attack.
Reyes is arguably the best libero in the Shakey’s V-League leading the NU Lady Bulldogs to the first conference championship of the Shakey’s V-League Season 10 when they beat Ateneo De Manila University.
This conference Reyes is manning the floor coverage for the Meralco Power Spikers who are not among the fancied teams. The team has the star power in former collegiate standouts like Penetrante Ouano, Ivy Remulla, Fille Cainglet and Karla Bello.
But the team is composed of mostly Meralco employees who are employees first and play the game after their eight-hour duty with their company. It will be interesting to see how well they fare against the other teams with players who are focused on just playing volleyball.
Shakey’s V-League was all about tall, long-limbed spikers like Rachel Daquis, Jovelyn Gonzaga, Roces and Balse. It was also all about the not so tall but high-leaping spikers like Thipachot, the San Beda recruits of PNP—Janine Nicole Marciano and Frances Xinia Molina—as well as Meralco’s Cainglet.
But new stars, who are barely five feet tall, like Gohing, Dionela and Reyes, now stand just as tall as their imposing, statuesque counterparts.