Koontz back to 2019 form after injury last season

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Photo by Collin Nawrocki

Ellie Koontz (15) finishes off a swing in Marquette’s 3-0 win over the University of Texas-San Antonio.

Four games into last year’s volleyball season, redshirt junior outside hitter Ellie Koontz was handed an unexpected setback.  

Over a span of 12 weeks, Koontz watched her teammates compete in every game and every practice as she recovered from a torn abdomen injury.

Considering the nature of the injury, Koontz said the recovery time was difficult to deal with.

“It was challenging because the only thing I did was rest my ab, I just sat out for six weeks first and just gave it as much rest as possible,” Koontz said. “It was frustrating seeing all my teammates out there and to know that I really couldn’t do anything.”

While Koontz couldn’t physically take part in practices, she said going to practices every day, supporting her teammates and doing whatever she could to improve her injury helped keep her engaged with the team.

Koontz said keeping a positive mindset helped in her recovery.

“It’s obviously hard to be patient and wait it out,” Koontz said. “That’s all I could do at the time and show up for my teammates and be as supportive as possible.”

Now in the fall 2021 season, Koontz has had a strong start for the Golden Eagles.

Through 11 games, Koontz is amassing 1.67 kills per set, 11 digs and 16 total blocks while also hitting .308%.

With the current pace Koontz is on, she would break her career-high in kills of 169, with 181 kills.

While that is a possibility, Koontz is more focused enjoying the season and being with her teammates.

Redshirt sophomore Hannah Vanden Berg said Koontz’s strong start to the season is proof of how good she is as a player.

“Coming off an injury is always hard, so I think the fact that she showed up this year has really proved to everyone how good she can be. I think her just coming back from that (injury) and just showing off her talents,” Vanden Berg said.

Head coach Ryan Theis said he is glad to see Koontz back on the floor healthy after missing most of last season. Additionally, he said he has already noticed her impact early on in the season.

“I’m happy she’s able to be back out there on the court. She had a really productive first weekend, it was pretty impressive,” Theis said. “(She) slowed down a little bit last weekend (against Kentucky and Wisconsin), but it’s definitely nice to have her back. We didn’t get to use her at all last year and I think that hurt.”

Beyond her play on the court, Koontz’s personality has rubbed off on the coaching staff over the years.

“If there’s a player on our team that doesn’t get too high or too low and doesn’t ride emotions on her sleeve or get too distraught as COVID is bringing down their world, it’s Ellie,” Theis said. “She is remarkably steady, incredibly cool, calm and collected all the time and it’s one thing that our staff loves about her. You know you could hang out with that kid all day long and enjoy yourself the whole time.”

Vanden Berg backed this up as she said that Koontz is a good friend off the court and a good roommate.

“I love having Ellie as a teammate, she’s a good friend off the court and friend on the court. She’s always super positive … it’s fun to have a friend on the court and off the court that’s always looking out for you.” Vanden Berg said.

As Koontz’s final year at Marquette continues, she said she is focused on just having fun and ending her Marquette career on a high note.

“Just finishing my senior season with a bang, just finishing it as strong as possible … I think no matter what my stats are,” Koontz said. “Knowing that I have my teammates’ support, family’s support and coaches’ support while staying as positive as possible would be a good finish to my book.”

This article was written by Jackson Gross. He can be reached at jackson.gross@marquette.edu or on Twitter @JacksonGrossMU.