In volleyball, the libero is a defensive specialist, a position added to the game in 1999 in order to foster more digs (dives on the floor to keep balls alive) and rallies and to make the game more exciting. The libero remains in the game at all times and is the only player not limited by the regular rules of rotation.
The libero is responsible for much of the passing when her team is receiving a serve, and they are usually responsible for a larger area of the court than her teammates. Defensively, the libero aims to chase down every ball they can and to get a hand on every ball to keep the play alive. If the setter digs a ball, the task of setting the ball up for an opponent falls to the libero.
It is important for the libero to be excellent at digs and passing, and to have good quickness and ball handling skills.
The Boise State volleyball team is fortunate to have one of the best liberos in sophomore Maddi Osburn. Often when a ball is about to drop on the Bronco side of the net and someone seems to rush out of nowhere to not only keep the ball alive but to tip it to a teammate with a chance for a point, the person who made that dive is Maddi Osburn.
Digging in volleyball is the ability to prevent the ball from touching one's court after a spike or attack, usually a ball that is nearly touching the ground.
Just how someone can come up with the kind of plays she does is remarkable--not only to keep the ball in play but to somehow have the presence of mind to get it to a teammate. Maddi said, "I just trust my blocks; they're always in the right spot. I just have to get behind them." "I've had a lot of practice with my platform," she continued, "and a lot of reps getting the ball where I want it to go."
Osburn played high school at Vallivue High School in Nampa, Idaho, where she helped the Falcons to a 46-9 record her last two seasons. She is also second on the team with 56 assists. Now, Maddi is bringing that winning attitude with her to the Bronco team.
Osburn has 328 digs this season in 20 matches, which ranks third in the Mountain West Conference. In the match against North Texas earlier this season, Maddi posted 37 digs, the third-highest total in school history. Only Jackie Stroud (41 at Fresno State in 2006) and Amanda Remy (38 vs. Pacific in 2011) have had more in Boise State history. Osburn also registered 32 earlier this year at Colorado State in a five-set thriller against the 20th-ranked Rams.
Coach Shawn Garus praised Osburn for her athletic ability, and to a person, Osburn's teammates appreciates what she does for the team. Senior setter Sarah Baugh said of Maddi: "She makes me look good with her good passing. She's awesome--she's super fats, she's super feisty. She's probably one of the most competitive players on our team."
Junior Katelyn Kinghorn said about having Maddi on the team: "It's so fun...sometimes you think it's going down, and then her comes Maddi like a vacuum and she just sucks it up."
Junior Maddy O'Donnell said of Osburn: "She's one of the fastest people I've ever seen and she can get to almost every ball on the court. I just love her mindset that every ball is hers, and she goes after it with such an aggressive mindset. Its fun watching her going after everything she can, and she's become a very good leader
Sophomore Sierra Nobley said that playing with Osburn "gives me a lot of confidence--I feel like she's always going to get there and continue the rallies--it's just a big confidence booster."
Osburn has a lot of respect for #20 Colorado State, Boise State's opponent Thursday night in Bronco Gym:
"They're big and they are physical, and they don't let anything hit the floor, and they just go all out for every point."
It has all the makings for what could be a classic match between the Broncos and Rams. The first 300 fans get free sunglasses, and don't forget to wear black for the "Blackout" in Bronco gym. Action between these Mountain West Conference powers gets underway tomorrow night at 7 in Bronco Gym.