The Student News Site of Monta Vista High School

El Estoque

The Student News Site of Monta Vista High School

El Estoque

The Student News Site of Monta Vista High School

El Estoque

Beyond the hit

Examining the contribution of overlooked positions in volleyball
Sophomore+Chloe+Chens+position+is+a+setter%2C+which+sets+the+ball+up+for+various+hitters.
Giljoon Lee
Sophomore Chloe Chen’s position is a setter, which sets the ball up for various hitters.

Seven years of volleyball experience has fashioned senior Elijah Kang into a knowledgeable player — according to Kang, he knows what it’s like to play almost every position on the court. Now, as both an outside hitter on the Varsity Boys Volleyball team and an assistant coach for the Varsity Girls Volleyball team, Kang has obtained a more nuanced perspective on the contributions of each position in volleyball. 

Combined with his background in competing with and against athletes of varying skill levels, Kang has noticed that the most applauded roles aren’t necessarily the most essential ones.

Junior Kiana Mark’s position is an outside hitter, which primarily hits the ball hoping to score a point. (Aidan Ruan)

“At lower levels, you can get away with having one or two good outside hitters who could make all the kills,” Kang said. “But I think at the highest level, having a good setter is the most important.”

Volleyball has six positions that each contribute to different aspects of the game. Outside hitters primarily hit the ball to score points as part of the offensive strategy. On the other hand, liberos and defensive specialists purely play defense and remain in the back row. Opposite hitters and middle blockers both hit and block, and setters are the playmakers of the game, prepping the ball for other players to hit and score.

As a setter on the Varsity Girls Volleyball team, freshman Kylee Mark says although all positions contribute to the success of the team, the players who come into contact with the ball the most are often credited with the team’s successes or losses.

“I think liberos and outsides specifically always get praised a lot more than the other positions,” Mark said. “If you start the play or you end the play, it’s obviously more seen than being the second touch or a middle blocker who barely hits or just goes up to block.”

Mark also adds that viewers are easily entertained by dramatic plays and triumphs. Therefore, offensive players draw much more attention and are commended for their efforts.

“Watching someone hit is a lot more fun than watching some set,” Mark said. “A lot of people like watching someone make a great hit, but you have to get a great set to make a great hit. So I think when most people see the hit, they don’t appreciate the set that went to them.”

Also on the Varsity Girls Volleyball team, senior and outside hitter Evelyn Yang shares Mark’s sentiment. While her current position on the team is an outside hitter, Yang has previously played as both a middle blocker and an opposite hitter. It was for the former for which she says she has received the most praise.

“Outside is the most appreciated position because they’re the ones who score points and attack the most,” Yang said. “At the end, everybody just remembers the one who spikes the ball the hardest.”

Having played different positions before, Yang understands and values the overlooked positions, especially the middle blocker. She acknowledges that they are necessary components in orchestrating successful plays. 

“I appreciate the middle blocker because they block a lot of balls,” Yang said. “They help make the defensive player’s job easier because middle blockers are the first line of defense.”

Kang shares the same sentiments as Yang — believing that although setters and liberos may seem like unglamorous roles, a hitter’s moment in the spotlight wouldn’t be possible without such support to set the stage.

Senior Evelyn Xie’s position is a defensive specialist, which digs balls hit by the opposing team. (Aidan Ruan)

“From a casual viewer’s standpoint, liberos and setters don’t stand out to anyone,” Kang said. “They’re just passing or setting to the hitters. A casual viewer wouldn’t understand how important that position is.”

Kang reflects on moments where defensive players have been essential to his own success on the court as offense by supporting his plays from behind.

“When I swing into the block, a good libero would cover me and get the ball up so that I can have a second chance to put the ball away,” Kang said. “Having a good libero cover my mistakes really saves me.”

About the Contributors
Isabelle Kok, Staff Writer
Isabelle Kok is currently a sophomore and a staff writer for El Estoque. In her free time she loves to eat instant pho, listen to music, and make (a lot of) paper lotuses.
Dylan Nguyen, Staff Writer
Dylan Nguyen is currently a junior and a staff writer for El Estoque. His hobbies include chauffeuring his friends across town, taking six hour naps and cooking everything-but-the-kitchen-sink meals.
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