North Texas Daily

Middle blockers shine for volleyball team

Middle blockers shine for volleyball team

Middle blockers shine for volleyball team
October 14
00:02 2014

Kyle Youmans / Staff Writer

In the game of volleyball, outside hitters and setters usually appear on the stat sheet the most. However, the middle blocker position plays a key role in a volleyball team’s success.

This season, the Mean Green volleyball team finds itself young and inexperienced at this position. However, the freshman trio of Holly Milam, Amanda Chamberlain and Mikali Myers has anchored the position down.

The middle blockers’ main job is stopping the ball from coming across the net off an opposing attack. The blocks, however, must stay within the court of play or it is considered a blocking error and a point for the other team. The quick reaction time and precised accuracy the players must have makes the position a tough one.

“The middle blockers have an extreme amount of responsibility,” head coach Andrew Palileo said. “Whether it’s hitting or blocking or being in the right position for their setter when the pass isn’t very good, it’s a lot to pick up and learn, especially when they are all freshmen.”

Other than blocking, the middle blockers must also adjust to tipped balls from an opposing attack or bad passes from the setter. This is in order to salvage what could be a busted play on offense, or keep the opposition from scoring off an attack.

“No one can block every ball,” Chamberlain said. “Sometimes, I may have to even appear if I am going to block the ball and instead let go over my head to the players behind me. I have to make sure to close the block on both sides of the net and work really hard to cut off the tips and help the transition.”

In the past, experienced players such as Courtney Windham have led the Mean Green at the middle blocker spot. Windham helped lead the team to  251.5 total team blocks last season, which was the eighth-most in North Texas volleyball history.

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Freshman middle blocker Holly Milam bumps the ball in the air against Jackson State on Sept. 13. 

Some of the older players, such as senior outside hitter Hanna Forst and sophomore setter Amy Henard, have been able to witness the growth made at the middle blocker position by the freshmen, Palileo said.

“The older players have really been a help so far this year,” Palileo said. “All of them, having gone through last year, know the new system and have been able to teach the underclassmen the game. So when they see something they are familiar with, they will really try and push along the younger kids.”

Early in the season, North Texas struggled with blocks with an average of 1.62 blocks per set through Sept. 30, which was the lowest in Conference USA and ranked 266 out of 328 nationally. Since then, the lowest number of blocks in a match has been nine, which came in the team’s last match against Western Kentucky University. 

“I think their improvement really has to do with how tough our practices have been since Conference play started,” Henard said. “The middles have been working super hard in their preparation for these games and coach has really been getting onto them, and his coaching has really helped them a lot. ”

The change in the efficiency in the blocking game is extremely important to the Mean Green, which is 7-1 when having more blocks than its opponent. Chamberlain said that she and the other blockers can only improve.

“I am always looking to get the block, but most importantly do what I need to do to help the team be more successful either on offense or defense, just depending on what the play may require me to do,” Chamberlain said.

Featured Image: Freshman middle blocker Mikali Myers leaps up to spike the ball against Jackson State University on Sept. 13. Photo by Edward Balusek – Visuals Editor

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