Taylor Unroe, the redshirt junior libero for the Gators, plays arguably the most unusual position on the volleyball court. The libero must wear a different jersey color from her teammates and cannot block or attack the ball when it is entirely above net height. When the ball isn’t play, the libero can replace any player in the back of the court. In other words, this position puts high emphasis on the defensive skills of a player, especially digging, something Unroe says she takes a lot of pride in.
“For any defensive player or libero, they know that maybe they’re not being recognized as much in terms of individual accolades, but it makes you feel good about yourself and what you’re doing for the team,” said Unroe.
The Muncie, IN native isn’t just passionate about volleyball, but also for animals, and it is obvious to anyone who meets her, beaming as she talked about her time volunteering at the Alachua County Animal Shelter.
“Once I graduate I’d like to become an animal cruelty investigator,” said the 5’7” defensive dynamo. “People who like animals have something special about them, and they understand people better because they’re understanding and caring, and I think that’s me in a nutshell.”
After a tough loss against the University of Texas to end the 2012 season, knocking the Gators out of the NCAA Volleyball tournament, the team has been training hard in the off-season to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Unroe, who led the team last season with 484 digs, suggested that the team’s youth was part of their downfall against a strong, experienced Texas team.
“It wasn’t any one skill or any person’s fault, I think we just happened to pick the wrong time to be the young team that we were supposed to be, but we’re working really hard right now and putting in the gym hours with individual workouts. That’s all we can do right now, and for me individually I need to play like how old I am. I’m not a freshman or sophomore anymore, I’m getting comfortable in my position and my role on and off the court,” she said.
Since recovering from an ankle injury that resulted in her redshirting her first year at Florida, Unroe has been known as one of the most durable Gators on the squad; she played all 110 sets in all 32 matches for the Gators last season.
Unroe not only excels on the court, but she is also stellar in the classroom, making the SEC Academic Honor Roll for the 2011-12 school year. Now in graduate school, Unroe continues to chase her dream of becoming an animal cruelty investigator and another chance at the NCAA Volleyball tournament.