USA Volleyball has listed 6’1″ Megan Courtney as a libero for the upcoming USA Volleyball Cup matches. The two games, which are effectively well-hyped exhibitions between the United States and Brazil, will be played on Sunday and Tuesday evenings in Anaheim, California.
In her 4 years at Penn State, Courtney played primarily outside hitter and as a senior ranked 2nd on the team with 3.04 kills per set. But the versatile 6-rotation player was more than just a gifted hitter – she was also 2nd on the team with 3.03 digs/set, and finished her career as one of just 8 Nittany Lion with 1000 kills and 1000 digs.
In a 2015 interview with Penn State head coach Russ Rose foreshadowed the shift, saying that “Megan could easily be our starting setter or libero, too, because she’s the best at both of those skills.”
Courtney was still listed as an outside hitter for Polish side Impel Volleyball, for whom she played in the OrlenLiga last season. She was ranked as the 8th-best outside in the league last season, and had the highest reception rating among all of the outside hitters in the league.
Courtney made her USA National Team debut at the 2016 Pan American Cup, where she won a bronze medal – playing at outside hitter. She played the same position for the Americans at this year’s Pan American Cup and in the Grand Prix earlier this season. Now, USA head coach Karch Kiraly is giving her a chance at libero.
Courtney has a 7 inch height advantage over the other American libero Justine Wong-Orantes, who started for the U.S. at this year’s World Grand Prix. Her addition to the roster as the backup libero gives the Americans intriguing possibility. Teams rarely have necessity for multiple liberos in one match, which means that Courtney could serve as both a backup for Wong-Orantes (or another libero) and as another option at the outside. That crucial versatility could be useful for the Americans at tournaments like the Olympics where rosters are limited to just 12 players. A player can play at both libero and another position in the same match, though they may only switch between sets.
Kayla Banwarth, the American libero at the 2016 Olympic Games, has retired and is serving as an assistant coach for her alma mater Nebraska. At 5’10” tall, Banwarth was relatively tall for a libero as well.
Courtney will play next season for Çanakkale Belediye Spor Kulübü in the Turkish League.