The 1,000 Kill/1,000 Dig Club: The Evolution of the 6-Rotation Player

  2 Wendy Mayer | October 26th, 2017 | ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, College - Women's Indoor, Division I Mid-Major, News, Pac 12, SEC, WCC

One of the major changes in the sport of volleyball over the last 10 years is the evolution of the six-rotation player. That trend is showing statistically with the increased amount of members of the 1,000 kill/1,000 dig club.

Currently in Division I, there are 27 members of the club and six players are less than 100 digs away from joining the group. Houston Baptist and Ole Miss are the only teams to boast two members of the elite group.

Since 2003, 475 Division players have joined the 1,000 kill/1,000 dig club according to statistics provided by the NCAA. asked a few coaches around the country about how the sport has evolved over their careers, including the development of the six-rotation player.

“I think that coaches have been dying for the six-rotation outside,” Stanford coach Kevin Hambly said. “We were playing pretty high as far as sets, so you needed to have these big thugs in the front row and little guys in the back row to play with the tempo and create opportunities on offense. Speeding up the tempo and speeding up the offense, has allowed for the resurgence of the 6-foot or 6-1 outside. You look at Alexis Hart at Minnesota, and she is 5-11 on the outside, running great tempo and can be a six-rotation player, not just hitting over people. I also think the beach game has helped with the ball control, especially with a kid like Kathryn Plummer. Now there is a 6-6 kid that can handle the ball and be a part of that.

“I also think the clubs want to win and want to create opportunities for their kids to be recruited, so all of the big players that come into their club, they put on a pin and force them to pass and force them to hit. You can see there has been this effort to create more big, physical six-rotation outsides. I credit the clubs for recognizing that is going to help with recruiting and help them win. To be honest, it is really hard to find great middles now. Usually the great middles are great basketball players that have joined the ranks late. Tami Alade was that for us. A lot of the middles aren’t volleyball players who have been playing for a long time, because if they are big and athletic, they have been put on a pin. I think that has helped create the six-rotation outside. There has been such a need for it that everyone is attacking it. I think the tempo has helped and the development of the players in the club ranks has helped get them on the court as ball control kids. It has been a great change and hopefully it continues.”

Louisville coach Dani Busboom Kelly noted the need for physicality in making the adjustment on her own team, moving a middle to outside.

“The game is getting so much more physical and that is why you are seeing hitters move from middle to outside or vice versa,” Busboom Kelly said. “This year, we changed a middle to outside because we really felt like we needed more physicality on the pin. I think that teams are looking for athletes to train because you see the physicality taking over.”

Buffalo head coach Blair Brown Lipsitz, a three-time All-American at Penn State, credited the cross training of athletes at a younger age as being beneficial in the process.

“I think the difference is that people aren’t specializing young athletes as much anymore, which is probably a good thing,” Brown Lipsitz said. “I started out as a middle and once I got to college I sort of needed to learn how to play defense and that was an interesting time to learn how to play defense. But I think that athletes now are starting to play a lot younger now, whereas most of us didn’t start until we were in high school, so they have more time. They are growing at different times, so sometimes they are liberos and sometimes they are outsides. They are developing all of these different skills and growing into much more well-balanced, all-around players.”

Brown Lipsitz ended her career with 1,295 kills, 549 digs and 415 blocks. When asked if she could envision herself ever reaching 1,000 digs, she jokingly said “It would have taken me like 10 years.”

Interesting when you think that Brown Lipsitz ended her Penn State career just seven years ago.

Current Division I Members of the 1,000 Kill/1,000 Dig Club

Player Class Pos Sets Played Kills* Digs
Lily Johnson , Missouri St. Sr. OH 484 2,117 1,480
Adora Anae , Utah Sr. OH 434 1,692 1157
Leah Hardeman , Coastal Caro. Sr. OH 405 1,648 1175
Autumn Bailey , Michigan St. Sr. OH 416 1,631 1295
Arianna Person , Belmont Sr. OH 421 1,581 1224
Khaila Donaldson , Howard Sr. OH 425 1,541 1116
Maddie Palmer , Radford Sr. OH 378 1,416 1014
Kelsey Bittinger , Kent St. Sr. OH 416 1,395 1250
Irem Asci , Temple Sr. OH 385 1,386 1064
Qiana Canete , UT Arlington Sr. OH 442 1,378 1518
Jessica Wooten , Houston Baptist Sr. OH 437 1,377 1263
Kate Gibson, Ole Miss/Memphis Sr. OH 461 1,374 1,271
Jordan Bueter , Central Mich. Sr. OH 405 1,360 1074
Kyla Inderski , Drake Sr. OH 438 1,343 1380
Haley Barnes , High Point Sr. OH 416 1,322 1097
Lexi Thompson , Ole Miss Sr. OH 448 1,312 1187
Andrea Estrada , Southern Ill. Sr. OH 438 1,308 1296
Sydney Busa , Elon Sr. OH 429 1,239 1062
Moriah Smith , The Citadel Sr. OH 407 1,233 1142
Krissa Gearring , Southeast Mo. St. Sr. OH 420 1,230 1194
Kia Bright , UCF Sr. OH 376 1,219 1115
Rylee Milhorn , ETSU Sr. OH 419 1,204 1101
Nicole Matheis , Niagara Sr. OH 422 1,159 1197
Megan Theiller , Fairfield Sr. OH 365 1,159 1088
Hannah Troutman , Portland Sr. OH 310 1,115 1000
Bailey Banks , Houston Baptist Sr. OH 335 1,099 1001
Bri Weber , UNI Jr. OH 341 1,061 1215
Approaching the 1,000/1,000 Club
Mary-Kate Marshall, Oregon State Sr. OH 426 1,743 958
Sierra Nobley, Boise State Sr. OH 396 1,795 951
Laura Milos, Oral Roberts Sr. OH 415 2,115 948
Madison Foley,  Nevada Sr. OH 376 1,005 914
Brooke White, Sam Houston State Sr. OH 400 1,204 909
Ashley Muench, UNCG Sr. OH 412 1,423 907

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Janice Meeker
Janice Meeker

Lily Johnson is a stud.


Jaali Winters (junior OH & six-position player from Creighton) with 1,244 kills, 875 digs & 80 service aces so far in her career

About Wendy Mayer

Wendy Mayer

Wendy Mayer has worked in athletics media relations for the last 20 years. The Northwest Missouri State alumna is currently senior writer for after spending the last 15 years with Purdue athletics.

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