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Leading from the Back Row: Connor Curry

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By Kelsey Detweiler, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - He's played volleyball in hundreds of gyms and on just as many sandy beaches, but one thing about Connor Curry's game that has never changed is his position.

The Nittany Lion sophomore out of Newport Beach, Calif. said that he's been tagged as a libero ever since he got involved with volleyball.

8773784.jpeg"Starting in middle school I was always short, or on the shorter side, and I think I started playing volleyball when I was 13 and I've been a libero ever since," said Curry. "I guess I kind of grew later."

Coming in at 6-feet tall, Curry is in fact the shortest athlete on this season's Penn State squad. On average, his teammates are a solid four or five inches taller than him. But take one look at his stat-line from this year and you'll see that his height actually works to his advantage in the back row.

Curry has dug up a team-high 187 balls and is averaging 2.49 digs per set. He has started every match this season and played in every set that follows, becoming not only a leader by numbers by also by example.

"You pretty much just facilitate the back-court and have to make sure everybody is in the right spots defensively," said Curry. "You're kind of the leader or the captain on defense, so I think that's your main goal."

And if you sit down to watch one of the Lions' matches for the first time, one of the first things you'll hear is Curry's voice.

"The coaches really emphasize [talking] and it's something that Dennis [Del Valle] did really well so I think that's something that he kind of passed onto me and that's just part of the job," said Curry. "You've just got to be the energy guy somewhat and just try to keep everybody going."

As a redshirt in his first year with the Lions, Curry stood sideline and watched Del Valle finish his senior season as one of the best liberos that Penn State has had in the last decade. Curry said that learning from Del Valle and having the opportunity to be a part of a winning program made coming to Happy Valley the obvious choice. 

"[The coaches] offered me the spot to play for four years and that's what they told me when they recruited me," said Curry. "They said, 'You'll redshirt behind Dennis, learn a few things and then it will be your spot for four years.' There was no beating around the bush like am I going to have to beat out this guy or am I going to have to compete for this spot, it was kind of like it's all on you."

Now, in his third year with the program and second as the starting libero, Curry says that being the only one of his position can be a 'blessing and a curse'. He knows that he doesn't have a back-up to fill in for him if he's having a bad match or just not playing well, but said knowing that gives him even more of a reason to play well alongside his teammates every time he steps out on the court.

"I think everybody's a leader in their own right," said Curry. "Everybody has to do their own job and there's six people out there all working toward the same goal."

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