Junior outside hitter Jordan Haverly took part in a defensive drill. She moved low to the ground, pivoted her feet and took the ball from the coach and bumped it with her forearms, reaching about 15 feet in the air.
After she was done with her set of drills, IU Coach Sherry Dunbar gave Haverly coaching advice and put her arm around her, and the two shared a smile. Haverly said she missed this last year.
“We were at a spring tournament, and it was the last match of the day,” Haverly said. “It was actually match point, too, which was extra frustrating. I went up to hit a tight ball, and I came down and landed on one leg.”
That was the last point Haverley would play for a year and a half as she tore her ACL, MCL, LCL and meniscus and suffered bone bruising when she landed.
The severity of her injury was immediately apparent to Dunbar and her team.
“We all knew when she fell it was the ACL,” Dunbar said. “And when you’ve been in the business this long enough and they fall like that, you know it’s pretty serious.”
Because the injury happened in spring, Haverly had all summer to brood about the mishap. When the first match came the next fall, she said the emotional toll was traumatic.
“After the tournament, (the opposing coaches) were like, ‘It would have been a different result with you out there,’” Haverly said. “I just started bawling because I was so mad, you just feel helpless.”
Haverly was not the only member of the team who had a tough time with her injury. As senior middle blocker Samantha Thrower explained, Haverly was irreplaceable.
“She’s as big a part of the team as anyone else on the team,” Thrower said. “When you’re missing a piece on the court, it affects everybody.”
The problems kept coming for Haverly as complications with her original procedure forced her to have two additional procedures.
During the first few weeks of rehabilitation, darting around a volleyball court could not have been further from her mind, as she was focused on the smallest of tasks.
“For the first couple weeks I couldn’t even pick my leg up by myself,” Haverly said. “Tasks you take for granted, like bending your knee and trying to walk again, were what I was trying to do.”
Going to practice for Haverly meant going to rehab. Usually, she did an hour of rehab before practice, some during and more after.
“Every once in a while I got to do a couple things that involved volleyball,” Haverly said. “Just to, like, keep me sane.”
Even during the grueling rehab work, she said she never considered hanging up her volleyball shoes and calling it quits.
“No, that was never really an option,” Haverly said. “It never crossed my mind, honestly.”
Haverly said there is no doubt in her mind she is ready to get back on the court and is completely healthy and recovered.
“I’m definitely 100 percent,” Haverly said. “There’s obviously always little things that you can improve on like muscle strength, but I’m as good as it’s going to get right now.”
As Dunbar watched the junior make her way back onto the court this fall, she said Haverly has gotten stronger with every practice.
“I think it’s still coming back,” Dunbar said. “She’s still got some cartilage floating around in there a little bit. But she still understands the game better than anyone I’ve ever coached, so the spring in her step is coming back, and it’s going to keep coming back as the season goes along.”
When it comes to being back on the court, facing other opponents, Haverly said there is no greater feeling.
“This first weekend that we’ve had so far was the most fun I’ve had since we went to the Sweet 16,” Haverly said. “Being able to be physically out there with my teammates again is just a really special bond, and it’s hard to describe.”