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Returning to the game she loves

Last season, freshman Allie Boaz began her USF volleyball career by starting 18 of 23 matches as the team’s right setter. She had 106 kills and set a personal single-game best with 11 in USF’s match against in-state foe Seton Hall.

One game, however, brought her first season to an abrupt halt.

During USF’s match against Connecticut on Nov. 9, her season — and career — was put on hold when she suffered a knee injury.

Boaz said she was going up for a kill in the second game when she came down on her right knee and it buckled.

“When I first came down on it, I thought that I had just hyper-extended it,” she said.

The injury, however, was much more serious than she anticipated. Boaz tore her anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments, lateral meniscus and also had a partial tear in the posterior cruciate ligament in her right knee.

Boaz had surgery to repair the knee Nov. 23. Some wondered if her career would be over, but Boaz said she knew otherwise.

“I didn’t think my career was over,” she said. “I just knew that it was going to take me a while to get back onto the court.”

USF coach Claire Lessinger said she thinks very highly of Boaz and praised her for her attitude.

“Boaz’s character is incredible,” Lessinger said. “She brings a positive attitude every single day whether she is on the court or on the sidelines.”

Junior outside hitter Marcela Gurgel said she was amazed by Boaz’s determination to regain her health. She said Boaz had a positive influence on the team.

“She is always trying to motivate us,” Gurgel said. “She keeps us strong mentally. I admire her and respect her for coming back and playing after having such an injury.”

After surgery, Boaz immediately began her rehabilitation. Rehab has been difficult for her, she said, but her determination has kept her going.

“I have been rehabbing my knee in the pool,” Boaz said. “I get in there every day, three times a day. In the pool, I had to learn how to walk again. Then I moved on to running. Another thing was learning how to jump without putting too much pressure on my left knee.”

Boaz continued to rehab her knee throughout the spring and summer. After almost 10 months of extensive rehab, Boaz was cleared to play. She made her return to the court against Eastern Kentucky University earlier this season.

“I was cleared in the beginning of September right before preseason,” Boaz said. “Right now, I still have limitations when it comes to practice and games, but I’m doing the best I can to regain full health.”

Boaz made it clear that she will be 100 percent soon. Her best game this season was against the Syracuse Orange when she recorded 10 kills. She said she is very thankful that she has been able to come back and make a contribution on the team.

“It’s the best thing in the world,” Boaz said. “I have had a lot of support from the players and coaches. I love being on this team.”

Boaz wears a brace on her right knee and walks with a limp.

“It’s obvious that volleyball is her passion,” Lessinger said. “The knee injury hindered her from playing volleyball for awhile, but she has fought through adversity. She brings so much energy to this team.”

In 23 matches last season, Boaz totaled 106 kills and 52 block assists. This season, the sophomore has 81 kills, 25 block assists and one ace in 16 matches.

Boaz said she is excited to be back on the court.

“Once you have an injury like that, you want to come back and play with a lot of passion,” she said. “I come out here and play every point and every game as hard as I can.”