Back from in­jury, Althoff se­nior Borik ready for ti­tle run

Belleville News-Democrat - - Front Page - BY DEAN CRIDDLE dcrid­dle@bnd.com

With a kill by sopho­more right-side hit­ter Grace Strieker, a dream be­came re­al­ity for the Althoff Cru­saders volleyball team on the floor last Novem­ber at Red­bird Arena in Nor­mal.

In its 11th trip to the IHSA state volleyball tour­na­ment, Althoff had its first state ti­tle last year. But while the Cru­saders cel­e­brated their 25-16, 25-23 win over Chicago Res­ur­rec­tion in the Class 3A ti­tle match, ju­nior Lau­ren Borik was at home.

Ex­pected to play a re­serve role for the Cru­saders head­ing into the 2017 sea­son, Borik was forced to sit out the year after frac­tur­ing her sacrum, a small tri­an­gu­lar bone in the lower back, while par­tic­i­pat­ing in a volleyball camp in New Or­leans in June 2017.

And so while the Cru­saders cel­e­brated in Nor­mal in 2017, Borik was home in the metro-east, still not know­ing the ex­tent of her in­jury.

“It was dis­ap­point­ing that I couldn’t be there with the team to en­joy win­ning the state cham­pi­onship with them,” Borik said. “I was very happy for them be­cause I knew how hard they worked to get there.”

This week­end on the same Red­bird Arena

IT WAS DIS­AP­POINT­ING THAT I COULDN’T BE THERE WITH THE TEAM TO EN­JOY WIN­NING THE STATE CHAM­PI­ONSHIP WITH THEM. Lau­ren Borik

court, a healthy Lau­ren Borik and the cur­rent Cru­saders squad will try for back-to-back Class 3A state ti­tles. Althoff (36-4) will take on Chicago Latin (35-2) at 5:30 p.m. Fri­day in the se­cond of two Class 3A semi-fi­nal matches.

The Ster­ling Golden

War­riors (39-1) will take on the Joliet Catholic An­gels (27-13) be­gin­ning at 4 p.m. in the first semi­fi­nal. The two semi-fi­nal win­ners will play for the state cham­pi­onship on Satur­day at 5:30 p.m.

A 6-foot out­side hit­ter, Borik blended in well with the Cru­saders’ large group of of­fen­sive threats that in­clude all-state ju­nior Karinna Gall, Katie Wemhoener and Strieker. Borik is third on the Cru­saders in kills with 178, be­hind Gall (410) and Wemhoener (230). She is also se­cond on the team with 38 blocks.

Borik has also been at her best in the post­sea­son, ac­cord­ing to first-year coach Tony Miner.

“She’s played at a higher level in the post­sea­son. Her hit­ting per­cent­age is se­cond on the team in the tour­na­ment,” Miner said. “But the fact that she is play­ing amaz­ing, that she has been able to over­come all the ad­ver­sity that she has had thrown her way is some­thing in it­self. She has been a real dif­fer­ence maker for this team this year.

“But we are a team, and ev­ery mem­ber of this team has made a ma­jor im­pact on the suc­cess that we’ve been able to have this sea­son.”

IN­JURED AT CAMP

In prepa­ra­tion for the 2017 sea­son, Borik at­tended the pres­ti­gious High Per­for­mance Volleyball camp in New Or­leans.

One day, while work­ing out with the other campers, Borik reached back for a set that was too far back be­hind her, lost her bal­ance and fell to the court.

“I went up and I had to reach back a lit­tle far­ther than I nor­mally would when the player set the ball. When I landed, I felt a ‘pop,’” Borik said. “It hurt. But I fig­ured ‘I’m here, so I’ll play with it.’”

By the time Borik got back to the Belleville area, the pain had in­ten­si­fied.

Borik’s mother, Melissa Borik, said the next five months were tough on every­body. Sev­eral MRIs of Borik’s back were taken and med­i­cal per­son­nel had no ex­pla­na­tion for the pain be­cause no frac­tures were found.

“As a par­ent, it’s very hard to see your child in pain. And we were get­ting no an­swers as to why she was in pain. The med­i­cal peo­ple couldn’t un­der­stand why the sup­port she was wear­ing wasn’t help­ing,” Melissa Borik said. “They did MRIs on the up­per back and mid­dle of the back. It wasn’t un­til they did an MRI on the lower back (pelvic) area that they found the frac­ture.”

“It was after the (high school) volleyball sea­son when they found it. It was very dif­fi­cult for Lau­ren be­cause she couldn’t stand to sit on the bleach­ers be­cause of the pain and she couldn’t travel and go to the state tour­na­ment be­cause she couldn’t stand to ride in a bus.’’

RE­HAB AND PA­TIENCE

Once the di­ag­no­sis was made, Borik be­gan un­der­go­ing phys­i­cal ther­apy for sev­eral months.

“The phys­i­cal ther­a­pists have been won­der­ful to Lau­ren,” Melissa Borik said. “I would say that she’s get­ting close to full strength. She’s not there yet … but she’s close.”

Borik be­gan work­ing out this spring and got her form back.

“It was tough to get the tim­ing down, but once I got back into it, the swing­ing mo­tion and ev­ery­thing that goes with it, it all started to come back,” Borik said. “There is still some pain and I have to ice it quite of­ten when tight­ens up. But I’m just glad to be back.

“My team­mates have been very sup­port­ive, and we’re all for each other and cheer each other on. Not be­ing able to play last year ... that was very dif­fi­cult.”

Borik hopes to play col­lege volleyball next year but has not yet se­lected a school.

SHE HAS BEEN A REAL DIF­FER­ENCE MAKER FOR THIS TEAM THIS YEAR. BUT WE ARE A TEAM, AND EV­ERY MEM­BER OF THIS TEAM HAS MADE A MA­JOR IM­PACT ON THE SUC­CESS THAT WE’VE BEEN ABLE TO HAVE THIS SEA­SON.

Coach Tony Miner

JIMMY JAY SIMMONS Belleville

Althoff se­nior Lau­ren Borik, right, gets ready to re­turn a serve in the Cru­saders Class 3A sec­tional ti­tle match win against Mater Dei.

JIMMY JAY SIMMONS

Althoff se­nior Lau­ren Borik (7) com­bines for a block with Karinna Gall in the Cru­saders’ sec­tional ti­tle match against Mater Dei.

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