JSU volleyball: After tearing a knee ligament, Glotzbach tears up rehab

·5 min read

Sep. 20—JACKSONVILLE — What coach would want to see one of his players tear a knee ligament and miss the season?

But, if it had to happen to someone, Jacksonville State's Todd Garvey might pick Courtney Glotzbach.

"She's the one person on the team that if that's going to happen to somebody, that's not the player I'm going to worry about coming back," Garvey said. "She's the hardest worker on the team. I was almost worried that she might work too hard to come back too soon."

Let's take the story back to the start, and don't worry, this has a happy ending for Glotzbach.

One of JSU's top players since the day she set foot on campus, Glotzbach was the Ohio Valley Conference's freshman of the year in the 2020-21 season. She appeared headed for a big sophomore season last fall, but in the middle of a rout of Chattanooga on Aug. 31, 2021, she tore the anterior cruciate ligament in her left knee.

The swelling was so bad that the surgeon couldn't operate on her knee until 24 days later. She said she was told that the ordinary wait would've been two weeks, but the swelling was "so aggressive" that waiting was the best option.

She was on crutches for six weeks and underwent a rehabilitation regiment that she said "was definitely the hardest thing I've ever had to do."

She didn't even get to do volleyball drills until more than three months after the injury. Even after she was allowed to ditch the crutches, walking was still a chore for her.

"I didn't start walking normally until February, in which I had to focus on each step that I was taking," she said. "That was difficult to do."

If there was a bright light during this time, it's that she did it early enough in the season that she had all of her teammates around while she was dealing with her recovery.

"Yes, it was not fun sitting there on the sidelines every day and watching, but knowing that they were there for me and watching them succeed made me feel better," Glotzbach said. "The rehab itself, taking it just one day at a time, really helped, and it made it go by really, really fast. Setting little goals each day made me not get in my head as much as I thought I was going to."

Again, Garvey will remind us that we're talking about the hardest working player on the team, and she worked so hard and recovered so swiftly that she was cleared to play about two months earlier than anticipated.

"If the rehab people tell her to put in one hour a day, she's going to put in four," he said. "That's how her work ethic is."

She still wears a large black brace on her left leg while playing. It goes from mid-thigh to about mid-way down her calf.

"There's definitely good days and bad days, and when watching myself on film, I can see that I do things a little bit differently, just having my brace on," she said. "I can't do all the moves I used to be able to do, but I feel like I'm figuring out different ways to score and different ways to do the things I need to do to help the team."

She said she'll be allowed to work out of her brace one year from the surgery, which is Saturday. Even so, she plans to keep the brace for the rest of the season to be safe.

Glotzbach said she's 100 percent physically, and Garvey said he agrees.

The results back that up. In a five-set loss to unbeaten Auburn this past Saturday, she turned in team-highs in kills (16) and digs (12). The kills are the third-best of her career, and the digs are a career high.

That was her first match back to playing mostly on the outside of JSU's alignment. For the previous five matches — all JSU wins — she slid to the middle to help make up for the loss of ace middle-hitter Zoe Gonzales, who missed that time with a foot injury. Glotzbach is 5-foot-11, and that's not the height of a typical middle hitter in Division I volleyball. But, Garvey needed her to make the switch, and she seemed willing, even though she almost always was giving up the size advantage to opposing middle hitters.

"I played a little bit of middle in high school, but that was four or five years ago," she said. "I think I did it my sophomore year, so that's been a little bit. So just having that experience, even though it was so long ago, the moves just kind of came back.

"It was really difficult because I was really undersized. I was outsized by like six inches every time we played somebody. That was hard to adjust to, and the tempo that other teams were running was a little bit faster. I knew that I wasn't going to be as big of an impact player as I am on the outside, but I just knew that I was going to go in there and do what I needed to do to help the team win. And, I knew everybody else was going to take care of business."

Garvey said that whether she's been in the middle or her natural position of outside hitter, she's an important reason JSU is 12-1 as it heads into Friday's conference opener vs. Central Arkansas at home.

"I knew she would be back to her normal self or even better than she was before," he said. "She put in the work to get there."

Senior Editor Mark Edwards: 256-235-3570. On Twitter: @MarkSportsStar.