It takes a complete sentence to list the injuries Idaho setter Meredith Coba suffered when she landed awkwardly on the foot of an opposing middle blocker last November.
She tore her anterior cruciate ligament, medial collateral ligament and meniscus, and suffered a non-weight bearing fracture in her femur. It ended her 2014 junior season right before the Big Sky Conference tournament and put her 2015 season in jeopardy.
Nine months later, Coba was back on the court for the first day of practice.
“I know I worked really hard, I had a goal and wanted to reach that goal,” Coba said. “I was pretty surprised by what the human body can do. It was pretty cool to watch myself transition to doing more and more. I remember when I was scared to get in the shower because it was hard to stand up and I didn’t trust myself.”
Athletes are accustomed to daily training and practice regimens and being part of a team. Injured athletes often spend countless hours with training staff or physical therapists, removed from the team aspect.
“It’s hard to be an injured athlete and watch from the sidelines,” said Vandals coach Debbie Buchanan, whose career at USC was cut short by a knee injury. “I’ve been through it, my assistant Kara (Kiefer) has been through it. I’ve only had two kids at Idaho with (torn) ACLs.
“What we talked to them about is, ‘Don’t look back and wish I would have done this.’ ”
Coba’s recovery started with “prehab,” a few weeks of rehabilitation prior to a Dec. 8 surgery. She went home to Salem, Oregon, over Christmas break and her rehabilitation continued at Idaho, where she sat out the spring season.
“I knew right away with the help of my physical therapist it was possible (to return),” Coba said. “But everything was up in the air, even in the days before the season started. I didn’t know what to expect.”
Idaho took precautions to reduce Coba’s workload, including selected days off from practice. The Vandals are running a 6-2 offense with multiple setters, meaning Coba is on the court roughly half the time. She was the lone setter in a 5-1 last season.
Coba has played in 77 of 83 possible sets and has a team-leading 440 assists. Her 2,746 career assists ranks behind No. 6 Jenny Feicht’s 2,889 in program history.
“She’s obviously done a lot for our program,” said Buchanan, who team has won five of six to move into second place in the Big Sky North behind Eastern Washington. “We’re grateful to have her back and hopefully she keeps getting stronger as we push to the end of the season.”
All seven area teams play at home this week. Idaho and Eastern Washington entertain the Montana schools. Gonzaga meets Santa Clara on Thursday and San Francisco on Saturday.
Washington State takes on No. 8 UCLA on Friday and No. 1 USC – the nation’s lone unbeaten team – on Sunday. Outside hitter Kyra Holt, 50th nationally in kills per set (4.0), is expected to return after missing last week’s matches because of injury.
Whitworth will try to avenge its only conference losses when they entertain Pacific on Friday and Linfield on Saturday. North Idaho College closes its home schedule against Snow on Friday and Southern Nevada on Saturday. Community Colleges of Spokane faces Southern Nevada on Friday.
Cardinal rule all-century team
Former Stanford standouts comprised nine of 16 players on the Pac-12’s All-Century team, including player of the century Logan Tom (1999-2002). The team was selected by a panel of current coaches, former players and media.
All-Century team setters: Washington’s Courtney Thompson (2003-06), USC’s Debbie Green-Vargas (1976-77), Cal’s Carli Lloyd (2007-10) and Stanford’s Lisa Sharpley-Vanacht (1994-97). Middle blockers: Stanford’s Kim Oden (1982-85), Foluke Akinradewo (2005-08) and Bev Oden (1989-92). Outside hitters: Stanford’s Tom, Kerri Walsh Jennings (1996-99), Ogonna Nnamani (2001-04), Kristin Folkl-Kaburakis (1994-97) and Kristin Klein Keefe (1988-91), UCLA’s Natalie Williams (1989-92), Washington’s Krista Vansant (2011-14) and Arizona’s Kim Glass (2002-05). Libero: USC’s Natalie Hagglund (2010-13). Coach: UCLA’s Andy Banachowski (1965-2010).
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