Senior libero focuses young Missouri volleyball team

Friday, August 26, 2011 | 11:41 p.m. CDT; updated 12:05 a.m. CDT, Saturday, August 27, 2011

COLUMBIA — She is the only Missouri volleyball player who stayed on the court for the entire match.

Libero Priscilla Armendariz spends most of her time in the back row, an ideal position to survey the young team surrounding her.

"As a back row player, it's kind of fun to set up the play for everyone," Armendariz said. 

She yells good dig, nice serve, or great hit to her young teammates. She runs across the court telling people where to go and supporting them if they make a mistake.

Armendariz and Brittney Brimmage are the only seniors on a Missouri squad featuring seven freshmen. 

"We have seven newcomers and a lot of them know that I have experience. They definitely consider me as the leader," Armendariz said. 

Missouri coach Wayne Kreklow said Armendariz anchors the defense. Armendariz took over the libero position for four-year starter Caitlyn Vann. 

"It's extremely important to have upperclassman who do things that don't show up in the box score," Kreklow said. 

Armendariz does show up in the box score, though.

She recorded 24 digs and five assists during Friday's two victories over Binghamton and Idaho State. Missouri defeated Binghamton 25-15, 25-9, 25-17. In the nightcap, they topped Idaho State 25-17, 25-16, 25-9. The Tigers are now 2-0. 

Though Missouri dominated Friday's contests, there were times when Binghamton and Idaho State made runs. During these times, Armendariz gathered the team and looked at the timid faces in the huddle. With a hand on the back of the teammates next to her, she seemed to settle the team down each time.

Armendariz said that focus is something that is talked about in practice constantly.

"We are told to not worry about the crowd, the refs, just the court. That way we can come out here with confidence and just play," Armendariz said. 

With a young team, Armendariz's role as leader has taken on greater significance. She said that the team gets together as a group for movie night whenever possible and hangs out regularly after practice. 

"Some people are shy, others are outgoing, and you need to know this before so you can make the shy ones feel included," Armendariz said.

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