Lily Rodriguez, the lithe libero on the St. Francis women’s volleyball team, is not a tall or particularly muscular woman.

Indeed, she believes that her slight frame actually leads to the speed and agility needed for a libero. “I am closer to the floor where I can get to hits that are just inches from the floor,” she explained.

Libero which means “free” in Italian is the floor leader on a volleyball team. The libero is always situated in the back row of the court from which spot the libero has the vantage point of seeing the entire court in order to set up plays.

The libero also gives verbal advice to the hitter on the most advantageous spot in the other team’s court in which to hit the ball.

The libero’s position is in the back row starting in the right hand corner. When the players rotate, the libero rotates from the right hand corner to the center and then again to the left hand corner in the back row. The libero never ventures into the front row of the court.

By staying in the back row, the libero also is in the best position to see what the offense is doing and to lead the defense into the best return position.

It is the libero’s job to understand and decipher the game as it is played. The response must be quick and accurate. A libero should have speed, agility and instant reactions.

Does the attention given to St. Francis’ athletes ever cause envy or resentment in other students? It might, but it is not overt to Lily.

The athletes at St. Francis devote a great deal of their time promoting the college, as well as devoting long hours each week to practice time.

They get no special treatment from faculty other than permission to miss a class for a game. Any assignments or tests, however, must be made up before credit is granted.

Our libero is on both academic and athletic scholarships. Lily said that “while I am pleased with my athletic accomplishments, I have great pride in my GPA of 3.8 and I work very hard to maintain it.”

A native of Linden, New Jersey, Lily currently resides in Cobble Hill, a quick trip to St. Francis. She was approached by other colleges but chose St. Francis as suiting her needs best.

In addition to her studies, Lily is the women’s volleyball rep to SAAC (Student Athletic Activities Committee). This group works to developed in-house student attendance at sporting events, events leading to awareness of diseases such as cancer and an event known as Shoot for the Cure.

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