Girls Volleyball: Joliet Catholic’s Morgan Reardon the Herald-News 2012 Player of the Year
By Tim O’Brien For Sun-Times Media November 12, 2012 9:12PM
Morgan Reardon, of Joliet Catholic, the Herald-News 2012 Girls Volleyball Player of the Year. | Brett Roseman~Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 14, 2012 6:09AM
Joliet Catholic’s Morgan Reardon could not believe it was happening.
Minutes before the biggest match of her high school career, her body was failing her.
Warming up for the Glenbard South Sectional final against Wheaton St. Francis, Reardon went through the warmup line, smashed a set from Mallory Mangun and landed awkwardly on her left ankle.
Something was not right.
“I was thinking ‘How is this even possible?’ ” Reardon said. “My last warmup in the last minute. I’m thinking, ‘woulda, coulda, shoulda.’ What if I waited five more seconds to hit that ball? It wasn’t that I had to play through it. I wanted to play through it. I wanted to beat St. Francis. I wanted to win so badly.”
Reardon did play, fighting through the pain. The end result wasn’t what the senior and her Joliet Catholic teammates had hoped, a three-set loss, but Reardon more than made her presence felt, finishing with 14 kills and nine digs on her bum ankle.
The post script? Reardon found out days after the match she tore two ligaments in her ankle.
Despite seeing her star hitter injured less than two minutes before starting lineups were introduced, Joliet Catholic coach Christine Scheibe was not surprised by the response she got.
“Morgan wouldn’t tell me how bad it was, just said, ‘I’m fine,’ ” Scheibe said. “She wasn’t going to put that in someone else’s hands. Morgan was going to have her say, and that shows her guts, courage, fight and responsibility she felt to this team to get out there and play.”
Pairing that team-first attitude with on-court ability among the state’s best, Reardon is the Herald-News 2012 Girls Volleyball Player of the Year. A 6-foot outside hitter, Reardon finished the season with an area-leading 413 kills, 160 service points, 104 blocks, 281 digs and 46 service aces.
“It means a lot to me. It’s an honor,” Reardon said. “I know there are many other girls in the conference and area that are great players, too. It means a lot to see your hard work pay off, and I appreciate it.”
The leader for the Herald’s wire-to-wire No. 1 team, Reardon was an offensive force all season for a senior-heavy but inexperienced Angels squad. While the team developed, she was a rock, providing offense but also showing off an all-around game at the net and in the back row.
A co-captain with Mangun, Reardon became quite the leader, much of the time merely by her actions.
“The team fed off her energy,” Scheibe said of Reardon. “She could be a vocal leader, but usually in an encouraging, positive way. Having two years of varsity experience and her talent, so many of these girls look up to her and admire what she has accomplished. They wanted to follow her.”
Joliet Catholic finished in a three-way tie for second place in the East Suburban Catholic Conference, then won its 12th straight regional title. At the sectional, the Angels defeated Nazareth in the semis with Reardon supplying 14 kills and 11 digs.
Then came St. Francis. Reardon had four kills in the first set loss but was clearly favoring her ankle.
“I was in my head and thinking about the injury without thinking about what this game really means,” Reardon said. “By the second game I was able to flip that switch in my head. Your ankle is going to be fine. You can play 25 or 50 more points.”
A three-year starter at Joliet Catholic, Reardon will continue her volleyball career next year at Loyola University. Before embarking on that new challenge, she will wear a cast on her ankle for several weeks and undergo physical therapy. But the injury does not require surgery.
“I’m excited to move on and get to play with girls I’ve never played with before,” Reardon said. “Most of these girls (at Joliet Catholic), I’ve played with them my entire life. It will be weird, but I’m excited to see what I can impact at Loyola and see how everything turns out there.”