Aug 20, 2013
Sophomore Mary Hannah Arrington will be a key in the back row for the Tigers this year.
With the 2013 Auburn volleyball season fast-approaching, AuburnTigers.com takes a look at each position group for the Tigers. In today's first installment, we look at the libero/defensive specialist position.
Auburn returns one of the SEC's most experienced liberos in senior Sarah Wroblicky (Irvine, Calif.), and the Tigers' back row will have two capable reinforcements in sophomore Mary Hannah Arrington (Marietta, Ga.) and freshman Taylor Schill (Arlington Heights, Ill.).
"Our focus is improving on serve-receive, and throughout the summer, all three of our defensive specialists did a great job of working at that," Auburn head coach Rick Nold said. "They came back much improved. I think that's where, once you have the comfort there, it's more instinctive. I think that's what we're seeing now."
Wroblicky has played in 58 of Auburn's last 60 matches, serving as the libero in 108 of 109 sets during the 2012 season. She was a defensive stalwart for the Tigers, recording a team-high 431 digs (3.99/set), the third-most single-season digs in program history. She's only 255 digs away from becoming the 10th player in team history with 1,000 career digs.
Arrington, meanwhile, gained experience playing in 21 matches last season, mostly late in sets to serve and give an extra defensive presence in the back row. She was also pressed into service as an outside hitter after injuries left the Tigers short-handed at Texas A&M, and she responded with six kills and 11 digs in her first extended playing time.
"Sarah is our most experienced, and has continued to improve," Nold said. "She's been our starter the last two years, and her leadership at that position is key. Mary Hannah worked hard during the summer, and I think she brings a good mix of ball control but also adds a dimension of being able to attack from the back row if the situation calls for it. She and Sarah will both battle for the libero position, and we feel very comfortable with either one of them in that position.
Schill will get her first taste of collegiate volleyball this season as a freshman. But she made her mark at John Hersey High School, where she holds the school records for single-match, single-season and career digs.
"Taylor comes in with a lot of great experience in high school and club, and she's learning our system now," Nold said. "She's ready to come in and contribute, which is good. She's solid defensively - very quick and athletic. This year and down the line, I think she will evolve into a very effective player for us."
Coming Friday: We take a look at Auburn's setters.