Towering at 1.72m, Gaolesetse ‘Lizzy’ Gasekgonwe has emerged as arguably the best opposite hitter/attacker in women’s volleyball.
She emphasised her dominance with a commanding display during the recent Capital Motors tournament, which saw her adjudged the Most Valuable Player (MVP) and Best Attacker. She was the heartbeat of Mafolofolo’s attack as they broke down bitter rivals, Kutlwano to snatch the cup.
The shy Lizzy, as she is affectively known, shared her volleyball journey with Mmegi Sport.
Born in Maunatlala in the Tswapong region 29 years ago, Gasekgonwe’s first love was football. She only got involved with volleyball while a Form One student at Maunatlala Junior Secondary School. A teacher who saw potential in Gasekgonwe encouraged her to pursue volleyball seriously. “I started playing volleyball in 2003 and I was selected to be part of the national Under-17 team. In the same year, I participated in the Botswana Integrated Sports Association (BISA) games,” she said.
She continued playing volleyball even when she moved to Lotsane Senior Secondary School in Palapye. It is there where she caught the eye of Motlakase volleyball team coach and they subsequently recruited her. Gasekgonwe said it was during her stay at Motlakase that Mafolofolo noticed her shining talent and they did not waste time to get her into their books.
Gasekgonwe’s star continued to shine and in 2006 she received her first senior national team call up. She said being part of the national team was a dream come true and it was a sign her career was on the right track. “I played for Mafolofolo for sometime and I left them for Kalavango and made a U-turn to Mafolofolo. Well I think the team realised that they cannot afford to lose me and they increased some benefits. It is all about greener pastures my brother,” she said with a chuckle.
She explained that her coach at Kalavango advised her to be an opposite attacker. She said the position needs technique hence most players fail to excel in it.
“My advantage is that I have the height and the jump. I use my right hand, but it is for left handed players. You can tell that I use a lot of technique to excel,” she said.
Lizzy said she is the core of the team because of the way she motivates her mates. She said when she plays against Kutlwano she becomes a different monster and unleashes all her skills. She said: “Ke itshupa gore Lizzy ke mang ha ke tshameka le Kutlwano”.
Full name: Gaolesetse Gasekgonwe
Date of Birth: July 7, 1986
Place of birth: Maunatlala
Position: Opposite hitter/attacker
Favourite meal: Bogobe and mashi
What is an opposite hitter/attacker?
An opposite hitter is a player who most often scores the most points in the team.
Opposite hitters do not have the passing responsibilities. They stand behind the passers on the rotation, while libero and outside hitters pass the ball and place themselves to the left front, right front or right back playing position.
The opposite usually gets the most sets in the game.