With nearly two-thirds of the season finished and only a month left until the GLVC Championship Tournament, the Truman State University volleyball roster is gaining more positive results. The Bulldogs recently showed their potential at the 2017 Regional Crossover Tournament, not losing a set the entire weekend. The Bulldogs took Aurora, Illinois, by storm, beating Lake Superior State University, Ohio Valley University, and Saginaw Valley State University. Head coach Ben Briney said he was satisfied with the team’s performance and thinks the regional wins can be a confidence booster for the team heading into the final three weeks of the regular season.
“It’s great to have this kind of performance at this point in the season,” Briney said. “To get momentum as we head into the last nine conference matches is big. As we move forward, we just need to focus on what is right here in front of us. Every conference match is important, but the one we have next is the most important. We just have to take the season one game at a time.”
While spirits were high for the team after the tournament, one Bulldog left Aurora with mixed emotions. During the Regional Crossover, Elle Renault, redshirt sophomore defensive specialist, suffered an injury she had endured nine times before — a broken nose.
Renault said the side of her nose was hit by a driven kill in her blind spot while she was doing warmups. While Renault said she is thankful she didn’t miss a single point in a match from a nose injury, she said she’s caught some unlucky breaks and seems to be more susceptible to injury than the average person.
“Most breaks have been volleyball-related,” Renault said. “When it happens from [volleyball], it’s usually me catching a hand or an elbow to the face. I don’t just get hit in the face with the ball.”
Because of the injuries, Renault said she has re-broken her nose into place three times, and this past year, she had her nose completely reconstructed. As a result of the repeated injuries, Renault wears a clear, protective mask while playing to shield herself from future injuries. She said she has worn the mask since her sophomore year in high school, so wearing it doesn’t hinder her performance on the court.
As a two-sport athlete — she throws javelin in the spring for track and field — Renault said she is no stranger to adversity and injuries. At the completion of her freshman year, Renault’s athletic activities were stalled when she tore her ACL during track season. The injury called for a medical redshirt volleyball season in the fall — giving her time to heal and return to javelin. As a redshirt sophomore this year, Renault became Truman’s top thrower last spring and worked her way back into the volleyball rotation this fall. She said injuries are bound to happen, but responding to them and pushing the fear away is the most important part of the process.
“I never want an injury to change how I play,” Renault said. “While sometimes it has been scary, you just have to move past it. For other athletes dealing with injuries, my advice is to stay positive. I feel like the mental part is just as hard, if not harder, to get through as the physical injury. Instead of getting mad at your situation, do your best to make the most out of it.”
The Bulldogs continue their season with a pair of conference home games this weekend. The Bulldogs face off against University of Indianapolis at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 27, followed by a 3 p.m. match Saturday, Oct. 28 against Southern Indiana University.