By Madison Huffling
Big 12 Campus Correspondent
Growing up in Kansas City, Mo., sophomore libero Taylor Migliazzo was taught to be a Sooner fan. Her dad, Paul Migliazzo, played linebacker for the University of Oklahoma from 1983-1986.
“The fact he went here and I got an offer here, it just all worked out,” Migliazzo said. “I grew up liking OU.”
In fourth grade, Migliazzo tried out for her first volleyball team. Former middle blocker Grace Whitley also tried out for that same club.
Prior to playing for the same volleyball team, Whitley and Migliazzo were in plays and musicals together.
“Her parents and my parents are good friends,” Whitley said. “I didn’t know her that well when we started playing volleyball, we had just done plays and carpooled together. “
They continued to play volleyball together throughout their teenage years.
In club volleyball, Migliazzo was named to the all-tournament team at the USA Volleyball 17 open division championship. Her team also won the Junior Olympics 16 open division championship.
At St. Teresa’s Academy in Kansas City, Mo., Migliazzo earned four varsity letters and was name to the All-State list twice. As a senior, Migliazzo was named to the UnderArmour High School All-America Watch List.
Whitley and Migliazzo did their recruiting together. They were recruited by some of the same schools, including the University of Oklahoma.
“I committed to Oklahoma and her dad played football here,” Whitley said, “so it made sense for her to follow.”
When Migliazzo arrived at Oklahoma, she played libero behind Eden Williams. As a freshman, Migliazzo played just 11 sets, with five digs.
So far this season, Migliazzo has played 69 sets, racking up 265 digs. She averages 3.84 digs per match, the sixth best in the Big 12 Conference.
Head coach Santiago Restrepo is in his ninth season with the Sooners. He moved Migliazzo to the starting libero position in the fifth match of the season, a 3-2 loss at Pacific.
The Sooners keep a statistic on passing, a stat that is not tracked by the Big 12 or the NCAA. Restrepo and his staff have a scale from zero to three. The better the libero passes to the setter, the higher they are rated on the scale.
“Taylor was passing the ball a lot more consistent, or on a lot higher scale than Eden [Williams], ” Restrepo said. “Therefore, if a libero was going to play all six rotations on the court, we needed to make that switch to give her more touches for passing.”
Migliazzo wasn’t expecting to be named the starting libero, especially after the season started.
“I wanted to, that was always my goal. I didn’t know when it happened that it was going to happen, but I was always hoping it would. I just kept pushing and playing as best I could.”
Migliazzo credits her offseason work to her receiving more playing time and to the team being better.
“Spring workouts were really hard and then on top of that, we’d go work out extra,” Migliazzo said. “I think that helped us get in to really good shape and made us get even better.”
During spring workouts, the team would run or lift in the morning before going through a routine practice. After, they would run again.
Whitley has watched Migliazzo mature as a player. She says Migliazzo has always been a good player since they began playing in elementary school and has learned what is expected of her at the collegiate level.
“She was always really, really solid when she was younger and until she was 18, but college is a completely different ball game,” Whitley said. “When she got here, there was the nerves and there was the completely different style of defense she had to learn. She’s really come into that and it’s fun to watch her play at this level.”
Restrepo attributes Migliazzo’s skill to her strong work ethic.
“Since she has been here, she has been very good about going extra hard at every single practice and doing the best that she can,” Restrepo said.
He credits her reading ability and control as the reason for her being a good digger.
“I think she positions herself well and reads the hitter well. It’s a lot easier for her to dig. She controls it,” he said.
Like the passing statistic, the coaching staff also keeps a “dig-to-kill” statistic.
“If we are digging the ball well and our setter is setting the ball well and we put the ball away, we calculate that as a dig-to-kill percentage. She has a pretty good percentage because she controls the ball pretty well,” Restrepo said of Migliazzo, “and gives us a chance to transition after she hits the ball.”
Migliazzo serves for sophomore setter Julia Doyle. Doyle cites their off-court relationship as the reason for their on-court connection.“She’s my best friend off the court so I think we carry that on the court. I love playing with her, she makes my job pretty easy,” Doyle said. “She knows what I need from her and she’ll do it. She’s been good to me so far.”