In volleyball history, the libero is a pretty new position. Introduced into the game in 1999 to help increase the pace of a game, the libero is a defensive specialist that can play a vital role in transitioning from defense to offense.
Serve-receive and passing aren’t always the most eye-popping and notable parts of the game but any coach will tell you they are vital to that end.
The libero is like the glue that keeps a team together.
And there is a spectacular aspect of playing libero too: Digs; diving, lunging, sacrificing the body to keep a rally alive after a big hit or a well-placed dink.
For three seasons, Whitney Brown has served that role for the Bryant Lady Hornets plus she developed into one of the team’s top servers.
“It makes me feel good to dig everything up because some people can’t do that,” Brown said. “Doing it and knowing that I can do it more than other people makes me feel good.”
No better than Bryant head coach Beth Solomon who paid tribute to Brown, the daughter of Jeanie and Larry Brown, on Wednesday as the Lady Hornets’ senior signed a letter of intent to continue her education and volleyball career on scholarship at Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia this fall.
“Ever since I can remember Whitney has always been the player that her team can count on to scrap every ball up that came her way and even some that went the opposite direction,” Solomon said. “She’s been a true asset to our team. She’s always smiling and willing to do whatever was needed of her. I have counted on Whitney for so many things throughout the years.”
As a senior, Brown had 312 digs and 371 serve-receives. At the service line, she was good on 94 percent of her 309 attempts with 23 aces. Her work earned her all-conference honores and a nomination to play in the Arkansas Coaches Association All-Star game in June. And now, her chance to play at the next level.
“Her serve was spot-on,” Solomon stated. “It was a lot of fun to be able to go, ‘Okay, Whit, serve deep,’ then turn around and say, ‘Okay, Whit, serve real short.’ We had a lot of fun with that three-spot right over the net this year.
“I’m not sure I could pick one favorite memory of Whitney,” said the coach. “It could easily be all her amazing saves or her humor off the court. Ultimately, it might be when ‘little Whitney’, which was her nickname that quickly went away her senior year, would stand in the middle of the volleyball court and command her teammates and tell them where they needed to be and what they needed to be doing, and where the ball was coming. All of those things together will be why we miss Whitney at Bryant.”
Brown said she started playing volleyball in seventh grade.
“After that year, I signed up for J.O. (Junior Olympics) and I loved it and then I just kept going,” she related.
She also has contributed a great deal to the defending Class 7A State champion Bryant soccer team.
“A lot of people have asked about soccer and a lot of coaches have contacted me,” she said. “But I just love volleyball more than I love soccer so I went with volleyball.”
As for the selection of SAU, she said, “I love it because it’s not like a huge school but it’s big enough where you can still have that college experience. I like more of the agricultural side of it. It’s a very agricultural school.
“I was also looking at CBC and UCA,” Brown mentioned. “UCA is a bigger school and CBC just wasn’t as interested as SAU was when I talked to them.”
Initially, it looked like she might step right into a starting job there.
“Their libero was going to go to California for school but she ended up staying this year,” Brown said. “So I’ll be training under her and hopefully start my sophomore year.”
Regarding her education, she added that she plans to major in, “Athletic training at SAU then I want to go somewhere else to do Physical Therapy.”