WHEATON – Even though she didn’t play in the back row a year ago, Molly Haggerty had a major impact as a freshman for the state champion St. Francis girls volleyball team.
Now a six-rotation player 12 months later, she has transformed herself into even more of a dominant force for the Spartans and the Suburban Life all-area team MVP.
“Last year I was a freshman obviously and new to the whole high school season,” Haggerty said. “Having the chance to go through all those tough matches last year made me realize how I needed to step it up and be a leader on the court. So last year has had a lot to do with this year.”
St. Francis coach Peg Kopec is witnessing first-hand the maturation process of Haggerty and her continued improvement is a scary thought for the opposition.
“Molly has many physical talents which she is honing into a very complete volleyball player,” Kopec said. “It is amazing that her fine abilities are still at a young age. She can be so dominating on the court. We are fortunate to have her, and the fact that she has so many teammates with high skills helps to make the team quite strong.”
Indeed, the Spartans are in the midst of another outstanding campaign, advancing again to the state semifinals.
“We knew from the beginning that maybe we didn’t have as much talent as last year,” Haggerty said. “So the main thing was teamwork and we’ve had that from the start. We have great team bonding; we’ve done a lot of team bonding things. That showed on the court and we started winning a lot of games.”
One of those teammates is older sister Maggie, though the senior and Nebraska-recruit was forced to undergo shoulder surgery for a torn labrum in early October which ended her season.
“Seeing my older sisters [Maggie and Meghan, a sophomore at Nebraska] play together at Benet was such a privilege,” the sophomore said. “My dream was to play with either Maggie or Meghan. Playing with Maggie for the last two years has been awesome. She is such a role model for me, on and off the court.”
As close as the siblings are, seeing her sister go down to an injury was tough.
“I didn’t think she had torn it,” Haggerty said. “She was in a lot of pain, but she was still hitting the ball hard. One day she wasn’t at practice because she was getting the MRI, and when she came in and told us, I had to leave practice. It was hard. I love playing with her and she calms me down on the court. Now she is on the sidelines, but she is still helping me.”
One positive is the duo haven’t played their last match together. In August, Haggerty decided to follow the path of her sisters and attend Nebraska.
“I’ve wanted to go to Nebraska since maybe I was in sixth grade,” she said. “I saw them on TV and I fell in love with Nebraska. The tradition, the coaching, the facilities – it’s a dream and I can’t wait to play there.
“Even if they [my sisters] weren’t there I’d still like it, but them being there makes it even better. It will be such a privilege to be able to play with Maddie again. With Meghan being there and Maddie going to be there, that sealed the deal for me.”