SULLIVAN TWP. — Less than a year ago, Morgan Young was on the sideline nursing a torn ACL in her left knee and wishing she could be on the court with her Black River volleyball teammates.
Today, she is “The Stuffer,” filling up the stat sheet in every category and soaring toward the net with the same attack and passion she did prior to the injury.
“From being hurt last year to now, it just feels amazing,” Young said Tuesday after leading her team to a 25-23, 25-13, 21-25, 25-22 non-league win over Lucas. “It was definitely hard (to rehab), but it made me look at the game differently.”
That new perspective has certainly helped the 5-foot-5 senior fill new roles. Primarily a hitter before the injury last September, Young is now setting along with her responsibilities as a hitter, passer, blocker and server.
Making sure she’s in the right spot on the court has been the first order of business — she’s getting it “little by little,” she said with a smile — but her all-around game has helped the Pirates to a 2-0 start.
Against Lucas, The Stuffer had eight kills, 15 assists, 18 points, five aces and a block. Junior Olivia Rayk added 11 kills for Black River while Megan Owen racked up 11 assists and three aces.
“We can talk about how amazing she is as a player and versatile, and she can do it all,” Pirates coach Courtney Dieter said of Young. “We have her passing and setting and hitting and in a defense no one expects. But it’s her leadership, her poise and her intensity that we really missed when she went down last year.”
Doctors cleared Young to play in July and said she could wear a brace on the knee if she needed it, mentally, but she has come back without it. Young said she was a little tentative but recalled with a broad smile the first competitive scrimmage, when the juices were flowing and her arm swung back to hit a ball like it always had.
“It felt so good,” she said. “I definitely have some things to work on, but it was great to feel that again.”
Dieter said she was thrilled to see the senior progress and recover as quickly as she did.
“To have her recovery go as well as it did, you just don’t know sometimes how it will go,” she said. “It’s great to have her back out here.”
Young’s leadership showed up against the Cubs (1-3). She rolled off eight straight points in the second game, including three aces, and five in a row early in Game 4 as the Pirates built a 15-4 lead.
Lucas stormed back to take the lead at 22-20, forcing Dieter to use her final timeout so the Pirates could gather themselves on the court.
“A lot of other teams, a lot of other years, that goes to a Game 5,” Dieter said. “But it only takes one play to ignite these girls. Mentally they’re very aggressive, and that’s pretty exciting.”
A Lucas error gave the Pirates the serve, and when Young’s dink fell harmlessly to the ground for a 23-22 lead, the team never looked back.
“Our attitudes are so good this year,” Young said. “We all hype each other up and pick each other up. We’ve got great dynamics this year.”
Black River lost the junior varsity game, winning the second set 25-18 before falling 25-17 in the third.