I wouldn’t call myself a big volleyball fan, but I’ve watched my fair share of Olympic volleyball over the past week and a half. One question that kept coming up during the team competition: Why does one person on the team wear a different jersey than the other five? Bump, set, spike — here’s the scoop.
The man or woman you see in a different jersey isn’t the captain — he or she is called a libero. These are players who specialize in good defense. They can only play in the back line and are not allowed to serve, spike, or block. The different color jersey makes it easier for referees to make sure the player doesn’t make a move he or she isn’t allowed to make.
Livestrong.com explains that a libero player can substitute in an unlimited number of times. However, the ball can’t be in play when the libero comes in. And when the libero steps out off the court he or she must be substituted with the person he or she originally replaced.
Though it isn’t always the case, the libero is often a team’s best defensive player, often a thankless task. He or she might be shorter than the rest of the team, but that lack of height can be an advantage when it comes time to dig out a spike. Plus, they get to wear sweet jerseys.
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