A Close Call

Setter Tori Hinojosa, middle-blocker Aston Korona and trainer Katie Steinhoff watch the game from the sideline. Korona sustained a grade three ankle sprain and sat out for Reagan’s first playoff game against Judson. The Lady Rattlers won the match 3-1.

There was no scream, only muffled murmurs as the starting middle-blocker limped off the court. She saw the worried faces of her teammates and the calm expression of her father. Ashton Korona then looked at her swollen, abnormally colored ankle, fearing this was the last game she would play in a long time.

“I was so angry, frustrated really, because my team is my life. We do everything together,” Korona said. “My main goal is to help them and I immediately knew it wasn’t going to be good. Any athlete knows how this is.”

Senior middle-blocker Korona sustained a grade three ankle sprain during Reagan’s  volleyball game against Johnson on Oct. 29. She jumped and landed awkwardly on her setter during a crowded play.

Korona missed the first game of the playoffs against Judson, but with the support of a brace and medication, the pain and inflammation mitigated and she eased her way back into the rotation for the second round of playoffs against Clark. Despite the minor setback, Korona still fears the worst.

“Mentally, it kind of scares me a little bit, I know how much I need my team and how much they need me. I want more than anything to benefit my team and friends and [the injury]  made me realize that I am a big part of this,” Korona said.

Having seen her closest friends experience career threatening injuries that have ultimately jeopardize their abilities to play ever again, Korona understands the value of health and practice. She has grown to appreciate the sport and the hard work and dedication put in by athletes in general.

Coach Mike Carter talks to his team during the last set against Judson in the first round of the playoffs.

“I take for granted all the little things like practice every day, playing with my friends, and being on the court,” Korona said. “It really makes you think about what you should be doing in practice to get stronger and prevent injuries and what you should be doing outside of practice and just being careful because everyone is valuable.”

Korona’s injury arrives at a tough time for the team, as they are facing some struggles collectively.

“We are overcoming changes in the line-up; it’s a hard time. Everyone is really tired and it’s the end of the season. We have to rethink [what] we are losing and adding,” she said.  I think we are going to have to figure out how to overcome different things, and when we put all the pieces together it will ultimately be better.”

Head coach Mike Carter shares the same mentality.

“She is a hard worker and a good leader on and off the court and we will miss her, but we have quality kids that have been preparing and are ready for their opportunity,” Coach Carter said.

Korona and her teammates have established an unbreakable bond and friendship. They have all made sacrifices in order to serve the team and make each other stronger and happier.

“I know how it feels to give up parties on the weekends and sleep overs with your friends because you are working so hard to reach this goal and when everything you worked for has been taken away from you, it is really heartbreaking,” Korona said.

Athletes, not only Korona, have to adapt their schedules and lifestyles to represent a school and a team. However, with this responsibility, there comes major risks involving health.

“Everyone has this ability to get over and overcome things and it makes me grow as a person and as an athlete. High school has given me so much more than just volleyball, its given me a team, friends, the ability to stay out of trouble and keep me busy. It’s given me more than just this sport.”

Korona’s love for volleyball has driven her to want to continue to play this sport in college. In fact, she is waiting on a few details to settle with her dream school in North Carolina. As for high school, Korona hopes to carry her team to another state tournament.

“I love all the girls. We are really talented and really close, everyone has something to offer. My goal is to go to the state tournament. As long we get closer and closer to our goal every year, it doesn’t really matter because we are  growing closer as friends.”

The Lady Rattlers finished their regular season as co-district champions with Churchill.  They earned the first seed through a coin flip and  played their first playoff game against fourth-seeded Judson. Reagan won the match 3-1.

Korona’s ankle was well enough to play on against Clark on Thursday, Nov 7. They  lost the first two sets, but came back to win the match 3-2. They will play New Braunfels Canyon in the next round  of the playoffs on Tuesday, Nov 12 at 6 p.m. at Cole High School.

Korona continues to  look forward to her future as a college volleyball player and hopes to make the best of her limited time with her high school team.

“I never thought [the injury] would happen to me, but it did and it’s okay, because I can overcome it and I know that within myself. I love this so much that it would be hard for me not to be doing it.”

About Nellie Jaafar

Nellie Jaafar is a Senior at Ronald Reagan High School. This is her third year on The Recorder staff; she is the Sports Editor. She hopes to be a great writer on the staff. Her goal is to continue to make all a's and make her parents proud. Nellie has three younger sisters and a baby brother; she also is the biggest Spurs fan. She may be reached at nellie.jaafar@gmail.com

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