1. Sports

UT sophomore digging in to excel on the court

University of Tampa volleyball player Logan Holanchock recently became the 13th Spartan to record 1,000 career digs and only the third sophomore to reach that milestone.
University of Tampa volleyball player Logan Holanchock recently became the 13th Spartan to record 1,000 career digs and only the third sophomore to reach that milestone.
Published Nov. 11, 2016

TAMPA — Dig this: University of Tampa volleyball player Logan Holanchock has crafted an athletic career out of grit, effort and hustle. She dives from side to side, backpedals or lunges forward, sometimes in non-glamorous pancake style, to keep the play going.

She's a libero.

A very good one.

If you're a casual volleyball watcher, your eyes are generally captured by the hitters, usually the tall, ultra-athletic players who leap high at the net to pound home winners with ferocious velocity.

But along the back row, where the liberos live, it's all about playing defense, receiving a tricky serve, passing to the setter or keeping alive the point, no matter what.

Those are the trademarks of Holanchock, a 5-foot-5 sophomore from St. Augustine. On the stat sheet, they are called digs, the moments when Holanchock scrambles to maintain the possession and prevent an opposing point.

"No matter what," Holanchock said, "you don't let the ball hit the floor."

On Nov. 5, in a victory against Florida Tech, Holanchock became the 13th Spartan to accomplish 1,000 career digs and the program's second-fastest player to do so. Only two other Spartans — All-American Margeaux Sinibaldi and UT Athletic Hall of Famer Hilary Epling — achieved that feat as sophomores.

"I really had no idea about the stats," Holanchock said. "I kind of know when I play well and when I don't, no matter what the numbers say. But it's kind of cool. It's a lot of digs. I don't know what to say other than it's just what I do. It fits my personality and it's what I can bring to the team."

Sometimes she leaps. Sometimes she dives. Sometimes, it's a bruising, battering existence filled with floor burns and frustration. But good volleyball teams can't succeed without that type of sacrifice.

The libero was added as a defensive-specialist position to international volleyball in 1999, an attempt to increase the quality of the rallies. Liberos wear a different colored jersey, remain in the back row, don't rotate and have no attacking responsibilities

"If we get 100 e-mails a week (from prospective players), 70 of them are from liberos," UT coach Chris Catanach said. "Every kid who can't hit or jump, they think that's their position. But there's a lot more to it if you're searching for the right kind of libero.

"We want a hard-nosed, never-quit kind of kid. They need an edge. They need to be vocal. Sometimes, they're not loved because they're hard on people. That's part of the job and it kind of fits Logan. She's aggressive and she's never going to give on a ball, even if it's 50 feet over her head. That's the mindset you need."

Holanchock said she learned her craft by playing beach volleyball, an environment where flinging yourself around in the sand provides a softer landing and a more fun way to experiment with libero-like skills.

She feels the responsibility of being a leader, which comes along with playing a defensive-captain role. Sometimes, in the heat of the moment, her message can be delivered harshly. She's a what-you-see-is-what-you-get kind of player. Although Holanchock also has some quirks, such as always wearing the same shoes for a match and eating Gatorade gummies to provide pregame good luck.

"It's like anything, you have to know your role and do whatever it takes to win," Holanchock said. "What I do is maybe something that doesn't get a lot of credit. But I know it's very valuable. I like competition and I like winning. If I get those two things, I'm very happy."

Catanach said Holanchock has matured into a much more effective player by picking her spots — and the appropriate emotions.

"She can be demanding, critical and maybe overly hard on herself — it comes with the position — but her intentions are always good," Catanach said. "Sometimes, you have to listen to the message, but don't be affected by the way it is said.

"Any team has to find a way to trust and work with each other. Sometimes, everybody isn't best buddies. But as long as you're working toward a common goal, it works. That's true in volleyball or life. Logan has done a lot already and she's going to have really big numbers when she leaves here."

But the numbers don't seem to matter for Holanchock.

As long as there's competitiveness, hard work, effort and a never-say-die mindset, she's doing her job. Ultimately, winning is the only satisfaction she requires.



This site no longer supports your current browser. Please use a modern and up-to-date browser version for the best experience.

Chrome Firefox Safari Edge