Sharyland Pioneer High School Athletics


The Monitor's 2021 All-Area Volleyball Libero of the Year: Sharyland Pioneer's Lizzy Fina

HENRY MILLER | 12/13/2021

PHOTO CREDIT: Delcia Lopez

Good liberos make improbable saves from the biggest hits.

Great ones, however, do it without interrupting the fluidity of the rally for their team. It’s just another in a long list of dives, digs and slides — along with bumps and bruises.

That’s what Sharyland Pioneer’s Lizzy Fina accomplished as the top libero on arguably the fastest and most fluid offense in the Rio Grande Valley. Because of her performance this season, Fina has been named The Monitor’s 2021 All-Area Volleyball Libero of the Year.

She started out as on offense, as a setter and right side hitter on the JV Dark team before varsity injuries lifted her to varsity.

“Coach told me, ‘We’re going to need you,’” Fina said. “That’s when I started to love defense. I would get a lot of adrenaline from those 5-foot-11 hitters taking big swings at me.”

Pioneer head coach Laura Cavazos said Fina’s transition to libero made her a stronger all-round player.

“She already had a high volleyball IQ, and she knew how to play every position,” Cavazos said. “I tried to watch her as much as possible but we were always preparing. But looking back, she had a great year. She put in a lot of work and she was so dedicate to getting better and making herself seen and known. She was consistent, a motivator and got her hands on everything.”

Fina’s numbers paints a picture of a phenomenal season with the District 31-5A champion Diamondbacks, who compiled a 37-5 overall record and 12-2 in the district. Fina tallied 597 digs, 583 serve receptions, a 95.7% success rate on those receptions, 229 points and 54 aces. She also had five kills.

But it was the intangibles that separated her. Often times she would race to a ball and somehow save it while the opposing team was celebrating what they thought was a point. Even if she couldn’t reach one, which was rare, she would dive, elongate and stretch her arm out, hoping that even a nail might keep the ball from hitting the ground.

“She knew the different hitters, who we were up against and was familiar with them. She would read them and put herself in the best position,” Cavazos said. “She controlled the back row and had no hesitation. She made the others on defense feel very confident and they would feed off her.”

Her ability also to seamlessly transition her team from defense to offense and get the ball to standout setter Natalie Reyes was true poetry.

“When I would come out of the game sometime it was amazing to see our level of play this year,” Fina said. “Most of the time we kept our composure and were able to get three hits every single time. We worked on out of system plays when teams would try to get Natalie out of system and we had amazing connections. We never had to worry though if our passes weren’t perfect. She would still set it perfectly and that made my job easier.”

When the first ball went to Reyes, Fina was ready to play setter, figuring out which blockers and hitters were paired to send the ball to the best option.

“We kept saying every year that this was our year but it never happened,” Fina said. “This year, however, we had no drama and we had so much trust in each other.... Click here to read full article