Taylor Bransfield | Photo by Joe Craven
An injury for an athlete at an important time will often take away their confidence and stop them from wanting to compete. In the case of Sophomore Volleyball player Taylor Bransfield, her injury has only made her a stronger athlete and better teammate.
Bransfield’s torn ACL came at the worst possible time in the season. A hard fall on her right leg took her out of last year’s Horizon League Championship match, a very important match to her and her team.
When she finally returned to the court after six months, she played one of the best matches of her career for the Raiders as they swept Youngstown State 3-0 with fans and teammates cheering her on.
“It feels really good,” Bransfield said. “I didn’t expect to be ready to play quite yet, but I worked really hard for this, and I recovered well. It feels so good to be back on the court and to play again.”
On the day of the HL Championship against UIC, Bransfield’s confidence was at an all-time high coming into the match.
“I remember thinking, ‘This is a big game, I have to put balls away and do whatever I can to play well.’ I felt confident in myself, and I felt like everybody was confident in me,” Bransfield said.
She played strong until midway through the third set, where she jumped up to look for a kill, but landed hard on her right leg, tearing her ACL instantly.
“I immediately knew what happened,” Bransfield said. “I felt two pops and I knew that was it.”
While Raider Volleyball won its first league championship and won a game in the NCAA tournament for the first time, Bransfield was forced to sit on the sidelines.
The sadness of not being able to play melted away as she watched her team move on to the second round.
“It’s definitely tough not being out on the court or being able to help the team, but that was the biggest moment in my sports career that I’ve been a part of,” Bransfield said.
From the second Bransfield tore her ACL, she had an entire team and her coaches behind her, supporting her as she recovered.
“We’re super supportive of each other, and it’s one of the best parts about being on the team,” Bransfield said. “I always felt really encouraged and supported through it all.”
Bransfield had help whenever she needed it, as her roommates, Sam Ott and Camryn Hausler, are also on the team and Hausler even tore her ACL earlier in the year.
“Everyone helped each other with everything we needed,” Bransfield said. “We were there for each other in the good days and the bad.”
Because of the support from all around her, Bransfield was able to stay positive, work hard and recover fully faster than expected.
“My mental state through it all was super positive,” Bransfield said. “I had the best support system and athletic trainers and surgeons here and everything I was confident in.”