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Volleyball: Panthers have eye on earning title

Two torn ACLs is enough to end a career. Olivia Matzek isn't ready to be done though.

She will be back. She will be setting for the Panthers, a position she earned as a freshman.

Now that she's back, people are excited, but she's nervous.

"I think for her, it's going to be awesome to get back on the court," senior Morgan Kummer said. "She's going to want (to win) more than any other setter in the conference."

Said Matzek, "It's hard to get used to again. I haven't played a volleyball game in three years. I love it. I've missed it, but I'm nervous. I want to provide for the team and be the setter that they need me to be."

Of course, in the back of her mind is the lingering fear that her knees aren't going to be reliable, but as long as she can compete, she's excited. And head coach Nicole Vande Berg is also excited that she's back.

"She could be a key piece for us as a setter because since she got hurt, we haven't had that," Vande Berg said. "I think (her coming back), after two seasons sitting out says a lot about her character and her ability to persist through the rehab to get back. Now she's a senior fighting for a position, that's not easy."

Highlighting other areas of the rotation are sisters MacKenzie and Morgan Kummer, who were each named first-team all-Middle Border Conference last year. MacKenzie, a junior, and Morgan, a senior, are the only two first-teamers to return from last year's conference award-winners.

"Knowing what has returned from the conference, I think we have a shot at the top of the conference," Vande Berg said.

Even deeper into the postseason award winners, there was only one other returner who was awarded second-team honors: Prescott outside hitter Katie Miller, who is a senior this year.

"We return some of our key players from last year," Vande Berg said. "I think we're even more athletic than we were last year. Our kids have worked even harder in the off-season. We have kids with higher verticals than we've had in awhile and kids are stronger, leaner and we feel like that's going to be a major asset."