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.
VolleyMob.com 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
|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|