Taylor Konzen wasn’t sure if she’d be able to play girls volleyball this season after she tore her ACL and meniscus at the end of March.
She said she had surgery on April 13 and since then has worked tirelessly to make her way back. That’s why she couldn’t help but get a little emotional Saturday night.
Konzen had four kills and played a staunch right block for Connetquot in its 25-14, 25-16, 25-20 win over Long Beach in the Long Island Class AA championship at SCCC-Brentwood, helping the Thunderbirds reach their third consecutive appearance in the state tournament, which starts next Saturday at the Glens Falls Civic Center.
“It’s awesome having Taylor back, especially because it’s our senior year together,” said setter Nicole Migliozzi, who had 27 assists and 12 digs. “I think the team was working without her, but with her back it just feels like everyone is being a part of it.”
Konzen made it back in time for the playoffs and was part of the postgame pileup after Diana Migliozzi, who replaced Konzen while she was injured, collected the final kill.
“When I first got hurt, I knew that the team would always welcome me back,” said Konzen, who wears a large brace on her left knee. “When I came back, they all helped me and stayed after practice with me.”
She has added another element to a Connetquot team that spread the wealth against Long Beach (13-2). Mackenzie Cole had 10 kills, Cassandra Patsos had seven and Mackenzie Taylor had five. Taylor added 21 digs, and Patsos had seven blocks.
The defense at the net from Patsos, Konzen and Kiarra Roth forced Long Beach into hitting errors, and the balls the Marines hit between the lines were often dug out by Daniella Balsano (17 digs).
Coach Justin Hertz said he’s tried his best to ease Konzen back and admitted that she’s pushing herself harder than he’d probably like. But because she’s another leader for Connetquot (18-0), he’s doing what he can to integrate her into the team’s plans.
“We’ve been taking our time with giving her a certain number of jumps in a day,” he said. “She’s just itching to get back on the court.”
She’s back now, albeit somewhat limited, and her teammates are ecstatic to have her.
“Last year coming in, she was a totally new player,” Cole said. “She earned a starting position and was absolutely crushing it. “She’s worked so hard to recover.”