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Katie's comeback at Mayville State

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Katie Wangberg has been honored four times recently for her performance on the volleyball court as a college setter at Mayville State, N.D.

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But the 2011 Pine River-Backus graduate should also be honored for her perseverance as a player.

Last year, Wangberg suffered a season ending injury to her left knee on Oct. 8, 2012, as a volleyball player for the North Dakota State College of Science in Wahpeton. Besides doing an intense rehabilitation during the off season, she also transferred to Mayville State and joined the Comets’ volleyball team.

Wearing a large brace on her left knee, Wangberg recovered in time for the start of this college season. But it wasn’t much fun as the Comets began the year with a 3-11 record as Wangberg was mainly watching from the sideline.

Suddenly, on Sept. 13, things started to turn around for Wangberg and the Comets as they quickly improved with a player rotation that included the 5-foot-7 Wangberg at setter.

“We finally got a rotation that worked,” Wangberg said in a phone interview this week. “I’m having fun and I love it here. The coaches are awesome and the team continues to get better.”

Mayville State has won 13 of its last 18 matches and has evened its record at 16-16 overall. A big part of the success is the play of Wangberg, who last week was chosen North Star Athletic Association (NSAA) Setter of the Week for the fourth time this season.

“Katie has had an outstanding season so far,” said Mayville State head coach Lindsey Johnson. “She continues to elevate her game each week, and it’s evident in her performance. We are lucky to have a setter of Katie’s caliber. The offensive threat that she brings to the court has really opened up a lot for our other hitters.”

Wangberg currently leads the NSAA with 731 set assists, an average of 6.8 per game. She also has 123 kills, 266 digs and has served 97.2 percent with 24 aces.

“Katie deserves it,” Johnson said of being NSAA setter of the week four times this fall. “She is putting up huge numbers and should be given credit for her efforts. I only see Katie getting tougher as she goes. She has an incredible work ethic and settles for nothing less than perfection, and that is exactly what you want out of a setter.”

Wangberg needed to work hard to recover from the knee damage, which included a torn anterior cruciate ligament and damage to her femur and meniscus.

“I wasn’t cleared to play until last July,” she said about the injury. “I went up for a hit, and I landed on my left leg, and it pretty much exploded.”

It was the first serious injury suffered by Wangberg, who excelled as a three-sport high school athlete at PR-B. Her older sister, Leah, suffered ACL injuries to each knee as a high school and college athlete.

“I know it’s not hereditary,” Wangberg said, “but I’m surprised (the knee injury) didn’t happen when I was playing in high school.

“I’m doing OK, but I can’t jump as high as I did before the injury, and I constantly ice (the knee).”

Wangberg, who was also the NSAA overall volleyball player of the week once this fall, said she’s looking forward to playing in the conference tournament in early November. Jamestown, N.D., currently leads the association with a 7-0 record while Mayville State is second at 5-1.

Pete Mohs can be reached at pete.mohs@pineandlakes.com. Follow him on Facebook.

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