MARQUETTE, Mich. – The term digging has a different meaning to Northern Michigan University volleyball player Cassie Osiecki. The senior from Hampshire, Ill. is the Wildcats libero/defensive specialist. During the match on Sept. 19 against Ferris State she recorded 14 digs and in the process became NMU’s career leader in digs with 1,565. The old record was 1,556 which was set by Jennie Long (1991-94). So, to say she has done some digging during her career is quite the statement. Look at Osiecki as a quarterback of the defense from the back row.
So what is a libero? The word is Italian for free and the player does not wear the same uniform as her teammates. She is in a contrasting color to stand out for officials. The libero is allowed to replace a player for a back row position. But the libero is not allowed to complete an attack hit from anywhere if at the moment of contact, the ball is entirely above the top of the net. The position is not allowed to block or attempt to block. The libero is allowed to serve by replacing the player in the No. 1 position in one rotation.
Replacements involving the libero are not counted as regular subs. They are unlimited but there must be a rally in between the two libero replacements. The libero can only be replaced by the player whom she replaced.
Ask what her position on the team is and Osiecki proudly says it is defense. “It is a strong defensive position and to serve aggressively,” said Osiecki. “I see myself as the primary defender. You are going to touch every ball.”
Currently this season she leads the team with 220 digs. Her season digs totals for 2007 (528) and 2008 (484) both rank in the top three all-time for the Wildcats. Osiecki really likes the defensive part of volleyball. “Defense to me is so much fun. It is all reactionary. You get on the court and say hit the ball to me,” said Osiecki. “You have to have a passion for defense to be successful at it.”
Dominic Yoder, the head volleyball coach at NMU, sees Osiecki as a vital part to the Wildcats play on the court. “She (Cassie) brings a level of calm leadership when it comes to our serve and reception,” said Yoder. “Her ability to pass, serve and play defense for us is very important.”
According to Yoder, Osiecki has developed over the past couple of seasons the mentality and ability to read the attacker to put herself in a better position to dig balls. “Cassie has become more of a confident player,” said Yoder. Her career high digs for a match is 29 which was set at Findlay during the 2007 season. This season so far she recorded 23 digs at Saginaw Valley for a high.
Osiecki this season has already according to some exceeded the expectations placed on her. She is after all just digging to be on the court.
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