Their voices are seldom heard and they might be difficult to find on the stat sheet, but defensive specialists Faith Tarver and Lindsay Guidish make the kind of contributions that can’t be registered in decibels or kills.
“We know that our role is important and we make big plays,” Tarver said. “And our team recognizes that and it’s OK if it’s not in the stats.”
According to USF volleyball coach Nancy Mueller, Tarver and Guidish have very clearly defined roles.
“Well, their job is serving, passing and digging,” Mueller said. “It’s not a glory position. Being a defensive specialist myself, you’re one of those people who has to be a team player.”
Guidish, a sophomore from St. Charles, Ill. with 128 digs in 67 games this season, gladly takes on the role of back-row defender.
“I think that defense is the most important thing,” Guidish said. “Defense – for everyone – is the most important thing, and the kills are just there when the pass is good.”
Guidish, along with fellow sophomore Jenny Scholle, joined the Bulls after graduating from St. Charles High School.
“Well, I came from Chicago, so the warm weather got me,” Guidish said. “Jenny Scholle and I played together our senior year at the same high school (St. Charles), and she was coming down here. I talked to Nancy a few times, she was my sister’s assistant coach at Houston. After I knew Jenny was coming down here, I thought it would be a good idea.”
Tarver, a junior from Palm Harbor with 121 digs in 62 games, had a more arduous route to becoming a Bull.
“Actually, I walked on to this team,” Tarver said. “I took a year off (after high school), and I walked on. I started playing my sophomore year, because I’ve blown both my knees. I’ve had surgery on both my knees, so I knew from the get-go that I wasn’t going to be playing at any glory position. I walked on and took the role that I earned and that was defensive specialist.”
On a squad with Conference USA’s career kills leader Michelle Collier, the 5-foot-6 Tarver and the 5-foot-7 Guidish realize that other players can handle the offense.
“We know that playing at the Division I level, being the shortest two on the team, there’s more effective hitters than us,” Tarver said. “I think we’re here to frustrate the other team as well as put up playable balls for our team. We do our best doing our role.”
Still, the role of a defensive specialist means coming out of the game when their spot in the rotation reaches the front row. Only playing half the game, Tarver and Guidish remained determined to accomplish as much as possible during their playing time.
“It’s hard because in high school we both played outside hitters,” Guidish said. “Then come in to college, we’re stuck in the back row. It’s not a position you get a lot of credit for. It’s hard to come out, but everyone notices our digs.”
Accepting their roles, Guidish and Tarver know that their role isn’t to carry the team or put up big stats.
“We don’t have many stars (on this team), we do have stand-out players,” Tarver said. “Everyone takes their turn being a star on the team, some more than others. I think we know our role and that’s to play in the back row, and that’s not the biggest glory role, but it’s an important role.”
However, when the Bulls (15-7, 8-3 in Conference USA) take on St. Louis (10-10, 6-5) at 6 p.m. today, don’t expect to be
able to hear this soft-spoken duo.
“They come into the game and their job is to make a difference,” Mueller said.
“They’re a quiet thunder; they get their job done when they need to. Yeah, they’re not real loud or real vocal … I’d like them to be more vocal, but you can’t change a person’s personality. They say what they need to say (on the court).”
- Anthony Gagliano covers volleyball and can be reached at email@example.com