By Chris Gionta
Springfield College women’s volleyball did not finish their 2019 season in an ideal manner. After a promising 16-6 start, a slew of injuries to the team caused a 6-game losing streak to end the year.
One of those injuries happened to sophomore setter Sara Labadorf, who after a long path to recovering from that injury, received NEWMAC Women’s Volleyball Offensive Player of the Week in the team’s first weekend back in competition.
Despite almost two years without competition, much of the time spent away from it was dedicated to recovery for Labadorf. Her injury was sustained on October 18th, 2019 in a game against Tufts.
“I dove, and later to find out, tore the subsheath over the extensor carpi ulnaris tendon,” said Labadorf, pointing to her wrist area. “So I was off for that tournament, but then, it got better enough so that I could play the rest of sophomore season, and then I had surgery in December of sophomore year.”
Following her surgery was time in a long cast for two weeks, then a brace for six-to-eight weeks. However, that was only the beginning of the recovery process.
“And then I started OT (occupational therapy),” said Labadorf. “Which was a much longer process than they told me it was going to be.”
After getting the surgery in December of 2019, it was not until the fall season of 2020 where Labadorf’s wrist began to feel normal again.
“It was probably that fall season that I was finally getting back,” said Labadorf. “That’s when I started finally getting volleyball reps. Strength had kind of gotten back since last fall, then I had to get used to volleyball again.”
At the Springfield Invitational tournament that opened up the year for the Pride, Labadorf was finally able to showcase her skills in intercollegiate competition while fully healthy. She did not disappoint in the opening tournament, as her first game featured 29 assists in just three sets. The senior setter continued her dominance in her next two games, where she had 35 assists in each match. Her successful string of games earned her NEWMAC Women’s Volleyball Offensive Player of the Week honors.
Labadorf enjoys the setup of the current Springfield team, as she attributed some of her success in the opening weekend to how versatile they are.
“This year kind of reminds me of my freshman year,” said Labadorf. “I have pin hitters, I have my middles, and it’s just so diverse. And there’s so much depth that I can just kind of play and do whatever, and it works out really well.”
Her best performance in this young season still came after she earned the weekly award. This past weekend at the Union Invitational, she dolled out 56 assists in a hard-fought, five-set win over Skidmore.
Labadorf is surely one of the main contributors of the strong start that the Springfield women’s volleyball team has gotten off to. With 12 of the 19 players on the Pride’s roster being first-years or sophomores without prior collegiate competition experience, Labadorf is someone who will be looked at as an example for these younger players. She has put in a lot of effort getting back to the player she is capable of being, and it is all coming to fruition now.