Hughes injured, team continues on

Written By Emily Myers

 Junior Zoe Hughes has over 200 kills in her first two years on the Point Park University volleyball team, but she will not be adding to that stat during her third year. Half way through the second set of the volleyball match, Hughes came down at the net and her left knee buckled on Sept. 1, 2010 against Westminster College”It felt like the whole outside of my leg was torn,” Hughes said, who tore her ACL, MCL, and meniscus in her left knee. Hughes is expecting surgery followed by about nine months of rehabilitation with hopes of returning for her senior year.”The more I can do now, strengthening my quad and calf muscles, the better off I will be,” Hughes said.Hughes, a graduate from Knoch High School in Butler, Pa., has been a key player for Point Park in her position as outside hitter.  At the end of her sophomore year, she had a total of 236 kills, which averaged to 2.36 per game.  She also has a total of 32 blocks and 115 digs for her first two years.”I could tell right away, as tough as she is, that it was a really bad injury,” said Assistant Coach Neal Brown, who is in his fourth season with Point Park. After the injury, Coach Mike Bruno decided to put in sophomore Kirsten Burkes, a graduate from Montour High School in Robinson, Pa.”I was worried about her,” Burkes said. “But coming in I knew I had to play as well as Zoe can.” Burkes has a total of 44 kills in her last seven matches, with six wins and one loss, since Hughes’ injury.  “I know I have to play as hard as I can, and as hard as everyone else,” Burkes said.”Kirsten Burkes was on the bubble and I knew she could step up,” said Brown, who saw Burkes have a total of 31 kills in her 33 games played as a freshman the year before. With the team’s goal of winning the American Mideast Conference (AMC) and making it to Nationals, Burkes and the team will have to continue to play well. “If we keep working hard we should do good,” senior captain Rachel Roddy said.  “We need to keep the same spirit and the same energy we have now throughout the season, especially because it is so long.” Last season, the Lady Pioneers made it to the AMC playoffs and played against Walsh University in the championship match, where they were one game away from making it to Nationals.  This was the first time the team made playoffs and had what was the most successful volleyball season in Point Park history. This season, the team has started strong, winning ten of their first 13 matches including this weekend’s three wins to take the Point Park Tournament held at the Greentree SportsPlex. On Friday. Sept. 10 Point Park beat Seton Hill University three games to one, and on Saturday. Sept. 11 beat University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown three games to one, as well as Slippery Rock University three games to none. When asked what it will take to get to Nationals, Brown said, “Number one, desire. We have the physical ability; we need to execute game plan and want it more than the other team.”