Molly Haggerty has returned to practicing full-bore with the Wisconsin Badgers for three weeks now, but has still not stepped foot on the court during any of Wisconsin’s eleven games this season. It is still to be determined if the 2016 Big Ten Freshman of the Year will see playing time for the 2017 season. In the latest Point Wisconsin podcast (available on iTunes), the topic came up and assistant coach Gary White didn’t confirm whether Haggerty would play this weekend one way or the other.
Despite the absence of the Third Team All-American, the Badgers have done well, currently sitting at 10-1 on the season after being dealt their first loss by a red-hot Michigan State squad to open Big Ten play. Slated to face off against Iowa this Friday, who are 12-3 overall and 1-1 in the Big Ten, Haggerty is not expected to make an appearance on the court for Wisconsin. After posting 3.41 points per set on a .239 hitting percentage for her team during her freshman campaign, the loss of the outside hitter has been felt this season, even with the success of the team. A six rotation player, Haggerty also posted 2.44 digs a set for the 2016 season, making her a valuable presence anywhere on the court.
After undergoing an operation in January to repair a herniated disk in her lower back, Haggerty sat out on the spring season before she was cleared for light activity. She suffered a recurrence of the injury and did not return to the court until late summer, however.
“They said I could’ve sneezed and re-herniated it,” Haggerty told the Wisconsin State Journal earlier this year. “They said there’s a possibility that getting a second surgery wouldn’t help it because it will be bone-on-bone at some point because all of the disk will be gone.”
The injury traces back to her high school days, where it would flare up before finally worsening through her freshman campaign. Despite playing most of the season in pain, Haggerty was a critical component of the 2016 Badger squad, setting a Wisconsin record for kills in a three set match with 27.
“You tell her there’s a chance that she’s not playing this year, she’ll punch you in the nose.” Wisconsin head coach Kelly Sheffield told the Wisconsin State Journal. However, a month into the season, there has still been no sign of the Third Team All-American on the court, despite her practicing full-bore now for three weeks.
When deciding whether to play Haggerty this season, Sheffield will have to decide whether to preserve her redshirt and get a full four seasons of playing time our of her career. The Badgers have found ways to win without her, but the Badgers are getting into their conference schedule, which is the hardest part of the season for any Big Ten team.
Wisconsin will face off against Iowa this Friday at 7 p.m in Iowa City.