Sports Spotlight: Lily Barber

Lucy Tantum

Lily Barber has high ambitions. Barber, the varsity volleyball team’s starting libero, hopes that her team will finally win the MCAL pennant this year after coming palpably close in past seasons and winning the 2013 NCS championship. And the junior doesn’t hesitate before rattling off her personal goals for this season.  She wants to hone her serve, attain above 2.0 for serve-receive, and lead the team in digs. It looks like this just may be the season when Barber’s goals are realized. The Redwood volleyball team is sure to be a title contender, having lost just one game so far. And Barber leads the league in digs—this year, she has nearly 400 as of press time. Barber has been a force on the Redwood girls’ volleyball team since she joined varsity as  a freshman. As the libero, she’s the main defensive player on the court, and a point often depends on her ability to properly receive the ball. “She comes up with the defensive plays we need, and she’s always passing serve-receives so our setters can run our offense,” varsity coach Katie Pease said. “We have a lot of big hitters, but without Lily and her passing, it can’t work.” “You’re known as the small, quick one that sets up the offense,” Barber said. “You need to have a good relationship with the setter and also with the hitters.  I’m good at reacting and seeing where things are, so I can tell [the other players] how to hit and get points.” As libero, Barber is the first line of defense against fierce players with lethal hits. Yet she’s confident in her ability to save the ball no matter how fast it spins over the net. “You have to have the attitude that you can’t be afraid of any of the hitters, even if they’re the best hitter in the country,” Barber said. “You have to know that you can get it because that’s your job for the team.” Barber took over the starting libero position after last year’s libero, Rachael Thorson, graduated.  Barber has made an effort to pick up where Thorson left off, both playing-wise and personality-wise—she aims to be a “calm force” during games. “[Thorson] was very loud and a great energy provider on the court, and I have worked on trying to fill that role,” Barber said. “Even though I may not be as much of a loud cheerleader as her, I want to make sure I’m communicating effectively with my teammates.” Barber brings much-needed stability and consistency to the court, according to Pease. “This year, her leadership and her confidence in herself has really grown,” Pease said. “The sky’s the limit for her.  She’s dedicated and disciplined, and she loves the game.” Barber is looking beyond her high school volleyball team.  She’s hoping to continue playing at a Division I university—though she’s quick to add that the academic quality of the school will also be a factor in her decision. When talking about her volleyball achievements, Barber tends to shift the attention away from herself.  She stresses that her self-imposed goals will also serve to support the team—her motivation is the MCAL or NCS title, not personal glory. “I feel like I have a big responsibility to play well for the team,” Barber said. “I think this year I’ve become more of a leader on the court, because I’m older and more confident, and I have a bigger role in how our team does.” Barber has played in every game this season. She said that she has become more comfortable in her role on the team as she has matured. “I think I’ve gotten better at being in the huge pressure games.  When I was a freshman, I was frightened to be in those games, and now those are the most fun games to play,” Barber said.