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ND Volleyball: Silva brings energy, versatility

Conor Kelly | Tuesday, October 11, 2011

While the spotlight typically shines on players who light up the stat sheet, coaches often talk about the unsung contributors whose impact goes much further than a box score. Irish senior libero Frenchy Silva is one of those players, Irish coach Debbie Brown said.

The Laguna Niguel, Calif. native has led the Irish defensively through her four years at Notre Dame and provided much-need energy, enthusiasm and leadership to the squad.

“Frenchy is everything you’d want in a leader,” Brown said. “She’s absolutely vital to our team this year. From day one she’s brought an energy and enthusiasm that really gets the whole team going.”

As a libero, Silva’s main task is to receive the serve and any other hits that fly over the net from the opponent’s side. While there is no statistic recorded for how well a player receives a serve, Brown said that is where Silva’s greatest value lies.

“It’s really a shame that they don’t keep a stat for that because as a result, her passing gets overlooked,” Brown said. “How we handle first contact with serve is so important to our offense.”

While there may be no statistic to mark serves received, there is one for digs, and in this, Silva far and away leads the Irish. Her 4.34 digs/set is good for eighth in the Big East.

Brown said the versatility of Silva’s play makes her extremely valuable. From passing to receiving serves to getting digs, Silva is a linchpin of both the offense and defense. On top of that, she has become one of the top servers in the rotation, with an ace-to-error ratio that is best on the team.

Her passion for the game, however, is Silva’s greatest asset, Brown said.

“If you walk in the gym, she’s always talking,” she said. “When one of our players gets a kill or a stuff block, she’s always the first to congratulate them. The team always comes first.”

Silva’s team-first attitude is evident in her conduct with underclassmen, Brown said. Under the tutelage of Silva, younger Irish players like freshman libero Kathleen Severyn have learned how to handle the rigors of college competition.

“Frenchy is about as good of a role model as you could ask for,” Brown said. “She and Kathleen [Severyn] work very closely in practice, and there’s no better person for her to learn from.”

Though Silva will not lead the Big East in kills, it is her contributions that do not appear in the box score — enthusiasm, defense and dependability — that make her the leader of this Irish team.

“She works harder than anybody,” Brown said. “And that’s going to be hard to replace when she leaves. She does so many things that don’t end up on the stat sheet.”