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An Olympic Mystery — The Odd-Colored Volleyball Jersey

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Are you watching the Olympics?  I’m trying to keep up with our local athletes on the National squad. Watching Matt Anderson on the men’s volleyball team, I noticed something weird, which was also the case for the women’s team: One player on each team was wearing a different-colored jersey than the rest of the squad! What’s up with that?

When in doubt, go to Google, I always say. And The Big G came through, leading me to this page on Yahoo! Answers [another good question: Why is “Yahoo” always followed by an exclamation point? Just asking…].

In a nutshell, the different-colored jersey is to indicate that the odd-jersey-ed player is a libero. Liberos are defensive specialists and, as someone pointed out on Yahoo[!], are usually the shortest player on the team [don’t ignore the height question; when Russia’s male volleyball team puts in their tallest players, the average  height is higher than the average for the U.S. men’s basketball team].

Under international rules, the libero can only play in the back row. Once s/he rotates to the front row, s/he must be replaced by another player. After his position returns to the back row, s/he can return. The libero is also not allowed to serve, for reasons known only to the rule-makers of the sport.

Glad I was able to clear that up. Now I’ve got to investigate race-walking…

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