Although they may not always get the attention they deserve, players that play the libero position in volleyball are vital members of a team and are looked upon to provide defensive leadership. Plant City High junior libero Danielle Rodriguez has been a key part of the success of the Lady Raiders this season. Rodriguez leads her team with 156 digs this season, including 37 in the district tournament last week, as Plant City moved on to regionals.
How long have you been playing volleyball?
About 11 years
That’s a long time. What got you into playing it?
My best friend’s big sister has been playing ever since she was 5, and we always went to her games. I just decided that I wanted to try it out.
What do you like about volleyball?
I love that it’s a mental game and that it never gets boring. There’s always something different, and you never know what to expect.
How long have you played libero?
Since 10th grade. I was actually a hitter before, but as we got older, everyone got taller, and I just kind of stayed the same height. Then, one of my coaches suggested that I play defense, and I just fell in love with it.
What appeals to you about playing defense?
When to know what to do and making the right choices.
You had a new coach this year in Jessica Thornton. How has that been?
I couldn’t have asked for a better coach. I’ve had so many coaches, and I was worried about getting a new coach, but it’s been great, and I’ve learned so much from her.
For what club team do you play?
Plant City Elite. My mom actually started it. This will be the third year.
How has your mom helped you with your volleyball?
She always has input and constructive criticism for me.
What is something you do with your team to bond?
We’re always eating together. We’re all best friends and are like a family. We don’t really need it to bond, but we’re always eating together.
What are some of your favorite travel destinations?
Mexico was really cool. I also went to St. Thomas on a cruise, and we went to a beach, and the waves were enormous. I didn’t think they existed that big, to be honest.