Sydney Yogi stands out.
As the Longhorns take the court for introductions, their height is obvious when you go down the line and you see players between 6 feet 1 inch and 6 feet 5 inches. Then in a bit of comical irony, the 5-foot-2-inch Yogi is introduced.
The senior, though, stands tall in a line-up of giants.
Yogi plays the libero position for the team and also sticks out on the court because of the black jersey she wears, instead of the home colors of orange and white.
The libero position is a specialized defense player who stays in the back row, cannot hit and doesn’t count for a sub.
They are usually the shortest players on the court and the team leaders in digs and keeping plays alive; they also are a great help to coaches, as they can be switched out without penalty.
“It is useful to the game because now that you can have a lot of hitters that do not play defense in and not waste a sub on that,” Yogi said.
Texas was without its starting libero for the end of last season, as Yogi was sidelined by a hip injury. Now, she’s back and completely healthy after a summer of rehab work.
“It’s good, I’m back, and I’m 100 percent. It was definitely a very frustrating last year though,” Yogi said.
Her return is an excellent addition to the talented offense group that Texas has up front. Yogi serves as a defensive specialist on the back line, adding a dimension to the team that was missing at the end of last year, when she was injured.
“Sydney has come back strong after last year. It’s a big piece for us especially after losing Sha’Dare [McNeal] right now and for holding down our passing,” said head coach Jerritt Elliott. “She’s also the one that is directing the back court; we need someone to teach our younger players how to be organized back there and [understand] the things that they’re supposed to be seeing. When you have someone back there that’s a senior with the experience she has, it’s a big bonus for us.”
Yogi is a part of a senior class that has been to the Final Four three times in three years, and would love to make it a four for four. This time however, she would like to seal the deal with a national title.
“It would be the cherry on top of a perfect four years here. We’ve been through our ups and downs, and I think our loss to Penn State two years ago was the most disappointing in all of our eyes,” she said. “But if we could finish it, especially because it’s in San Antonio with a lot of our fans there, it would be awesome to say the least.”
Yogi knows her family will be there with her for the ride, despite the fact that they live in Hawaii. She says her mom tries to be at as many games as possible every year and has already attended the tournament in California this year.
“My mom is racking up some crazy airlines this season, especially since it’s my last year,” she said with a laugh.
Looking forward past volleyball, she is looking to go to pharmacy school. For now though, she wouldn’t mind playing overseas after her time as a Longhorn, to earn a little money.
“I would be open to playing overseas for a while if the opportunity presents itself, and I could make a little money to pay for school so that would be nice.”
That’s in the future though. As of now, she is only focused on one thing — helping the Longhorns reach the Final Four and obtaining the national title that has eluded her so far.
Printed on September 15, 2011 as: Yogi focused on return to Final Four