The Lehigh volleyball team started its season on a 12-2 run, beating nearly all non-conference teams before Patriot League play.
In past seasons, junior setter Ana Spangenberg was a large part of Lehigh’s success. Spangenberg was named first-team all-Patriot League at the end of last season after earning 406 kills, 460 points and 215 digs.
But now, the Mountain Hawks have had to find a way to win without Spangenberg.
Just three games into the season, Spangenberg suffered from MCL and ACL tears, ending her year almost as quickly as it began.
Spangenberg’s MCL must heal before she receives any ACL treatment.
“Getting that MCL stable and strong enough to withstand ACL reconstruction surgery, which typically takes six to eight weeks, is where we are at now,” said Danielle Scanlon, an assistant director of Sports Medicine.
Losing a player of Spangenberg’s caliber so early in the season is not something any coach or team can plan for, but assistant coach Xiomara Ortiz said she has seen the rest of the team rally around the loss, with each player stepping up in her own role.
“The way the rest of the team stepped up to fill that empty role on the court shows that it takes a full team effort to (be successful),” Ortiz said.
Spangenberg’s love for the game shines when she’s on the court and her passion hasn’t wavered even as she sits on the sidelines. Her first major injury since the age of 12 has forced the junior captain to find her voice as a motivational leader.
Spangenberg has taken sophomore Hannah Wright under her wing after Wright made the switch from outside hitter to right-side since Spangenberg’s injury.
Spangenberg’s rehabilitation requires twice-daily three-hour sessions, as well as visits to the trainer’s office six days a week. Despite the rigorous process, Spangenberg said she remains hopeful that she can beat her current recovery timeline. Spangenberg thinks of the calendar as her next opponent and is trying to overcome it just as she would an on-court opponent.
“I’m just trying to not look at the big picture and get discouraged,” Spangenberg said. “I like to just take it one day at a time and push myself each day.”
Spangenberg said there is a reason for everything and she is anticipating her comeback, without looking past all the goals the team has set out for this year.
“Hey, it always could be worse,” Spangenberg said.