In the last 4 Olympic Games, Brazil had arguably the best libero to ever play the game captaining its backcourt: Serginho (Santos). Now that he is retired from the national team, things are not quite the same. The team is currently struggling at the position. At the VNL, recently turned libero Murilo Endres is trying to grow into the position, while youngster Thales Hoss, also a former outside hitter, although a little bit more experienced in the position, is also trying to commander a fixed spot on the roster.
Both players talked about the situation, and how much their admiration for Serginho plays a big role in their new job (Globo.com):
“I spent a lot of years with Serginho, and today I value even more everything he did inside the court. To be a leader without having the power to decide games by scoring is very hard. I always admired him, but after transitioning to libero I now respect him even more. Injuries took their toll on my body, I was having a lot of trouble hitting the ball. Now, I find it difficult not being able to being decisive on games. Not attacking, blocking, not scoring is so different for me as a player. To live on the court off of receptions, making defenses and setting up plays so other players can score was very hard at first, but now I am slowly getting used to it.” – Murilo
“I learned a lot from Serginho due to his leadership, built after so many years with the national team. I learned a bit about the responsibility of captaining the back-court, to call upon myself the responsibility of helping my teammates. I was an outside hitter on my youth teams. I always looked up to Murilo, I grew up watching him play. I didn’t have his power though, so I had the choice of either transitioning to libero or stop playing. Murilo is experienced, he captains the game. The transition for him must have not been that hard, since outside hitters and liberos practice receiving and digging together. He already had the necessary tools to play as a libero.”- Thales
Needless to say, Murilo’s and Thales’ name are nowhere to be found on VNL’s receiving and digging leader boards. It will take still some time for the team’s defense to return to its elite level. Although the team, currently 5-1 in the competition, doesn’t seem to be that harmed by the situation, the dilema has drawn the ire of “real” Brazilian liberos:
- Superliga Champion Rips Murilo’s Call Up For Brazil NT