Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) --- Julie Rainey wasn't always the talented defensive player you see today for the University of Minnesota-Duluth (UMD) volleyball team.
"She was actually an all-conference and all-state outside hitter at Stewartville," head coach Jim Boos said, referring to Rainey's days in high school.
Once at UMD though, a position change showed Rainey that playing defense on the volleyball court can be just as much fun as offense.
"I think it's natural," Rainey said of playing the libero position. "It just feels natural when I play defense. I like making those big plays at the end of a game. I try to be in the right spot, reading hitters, and trying to figure out defensive schemes for us."
It's a skill Rainey has now nearly perfected, and something both she and her teammates view as a big asset to the Bulldogs.
"She's a great player, a great libero," Hibbing, Minn. native and UMD senior outside hitter Kate Lange said. "It's pretty apparent when you come to game and see her get to balls that most people couldn't get to. It's impressive to watch her play."
"It's exciting," Rainey said, "and I think it's a momentum changer when someone does get a big dig."
Past the momentum of Rainey's defensive play, head coach Jim Boos says it's imperative for his team to find success in the win column.
"She's the glue of what we do," Boos said. "Kate Lange gets a lot of the accolades and the credit because it's obvious what she's doing, but a lot of our defense and our ball control revolves around Julie and her taking up more than her fair share of court. We design so much of our system to send balls her way, and she chews them up to give us another chance to get swings. She's a huge part of why we're at where we're at."