Fisher makes easy transition to libero

By Paige Fieldsted, Staff Writer

A lot of talented athletes begin training when they can barely walk8212;some figure skaters start skating at age 3 and Tiger Woods swung his first golf club at 2. For U volleyball libero, Keisha Fisher, it began even earlier.

Fisher was introduced to volleyball by her mom, who has been coaching volleyball for more than 20 years, and could often be found crawling around the outside of the court during her mom’s practices.

“When I could walk, they would be doing hitting lines on one net and I would be over on another net doing my own little blocking drills,” Fisher said. “I couldn’t even touch the bottom of the net.”

Fisher’s early start in volleyball has helped her excel throughout her career. She was named the 2006 Gatorade Idaho Girls Volleyball Player of the Year and holds school career records for aces, digs, kills and assists.

Fisher also began playing basketball and softball at a young age.

“Keisha is what I call a ball athlete, she can pick up any type of ball and she’s going to be good at it,” said head coach Beth Launiere. “She is just an all-around athlete.”

While Fisher can now get above the net, blocking drills aren’t part of her daily practice routine anymore. At 5 feet 7 inches, she is one of the shortest players on the team and spends most of her practice digging the hits of her fellow teammates.

After spending her high school and club days playing as outside hitter and setter, Fisher was recruited to play libero for the Utes.

“She is too small to play anywhere else. She can really hit the ball but it’s not high enough,” Launiere said. “She has a great balance and a great feel for the ball and is incredibly athletic, which makes her a great libero.”

Despite being recruited to play the back row, Fisher filled the setter position last year after former setter Sydney Anderson’s unexpected departure.

Even though Fisher played setter last year, Launiere had no intention of keeping her in the position. Fisher moved to libero after former libero and all-time dig leader Connie Dangerfield graduated last year. Fisher has been at the libero position ever since.

“That’s what we recruited her for,” Launiere said. “She stepped in and played setter last year because we needed her to, but we were always going to move her to libero.”

Although Fisher knew she would be playing on the back row this year, the transition wasn’t easy, as she spent the first part of the season adjusting from leading the offense to her new role as defensive leader.

“It is really different because I still want to step in and set like I used to,” Fisher said. “It has been challenging because I’ve never played libero before.”

Although it’s not the most glamorous position on the team, Fisher has adapted to her new role and serves as anchor for the defense and is leading the team in digs per set.

“She is determined not to let a ball drop,” said middle blocker Emillie Toone. “She reminds us before every game that she’s going to do whatever it takes to get every ball and we should all do the same.”

It shouldn’t be hard to spot Fisher during a game, as she is the player wearing a different color jersey. The uniform difference denotes her status as libero and lets Fisher come in and out of the back row for unlimited substitutions.

While Fisher adjusted to her new position fairly quickly, it took a little longer to build the confidence needed to succeed as a defensive specialist.

Fisher’s breakout match was against Colorado State back in September, in which she dug a season-high 33 balls.

“That game gave her so much confidence and she has really elevated her play since then,” Launiere said. “After that, she really embraced her role and has gotten so much better because of it. It is not the most fashionable position to play, but she understands her job is to get the ball up so we can get kills.”

Even though Fisher gave up her position as leader of the offense and the one that calls the shots, teammates said she is still very much a leader on and off the court.

“She is a leader regardless of where she is playing,” said setter Stephanie Shardlow. “She has this attitude and real desire to pursue everything and it makes her a leader of the back row.”

After playing libero for almost an entire season now, Fisher said she has enjoyed the challenge and loves everything about her new position.

“Digging a really hard hit is awesome, but getting a perfect pass is cool too,” she said. “I love the challenge of playing libero and really everything about it.”

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Thien Sok

Keisha Fisher said her transition from setter last year to libero this year was a little bit of a rough transition. Fisher has been a key part of this seasons defensive success.