Volleyball: Injuries yield to success for Kriskova in 2015

first_imgOver the past few weeks, a new star has emerged from the nationally ranked Wisconsin women’s volleyball team.Redshirt junior Romana Kriskova has allowed the Badgers’ top notch attack to reach another gear and is hoping to help push Wisconsin to another Big Ten title.Averaging 2.36 kills per set and ranking third in hitting percentage, Kriskova is not afraid to take matters into her own hands on the court. But the 6-foot-2 outside hitter from Bratislava, Slovakia knows that although she may be soaring above the net now, she could barely walk 10 months ago.Kriskova’s collegiate career started at Virginia Commonwealth University, where she was an immediate presence for VCU’s volleyball team. After a sensational freshman campaign, Kriskova took flight her sophomore season, ranking fifth in the nation in kills and winning the Atlantic 10 Player of the Year.But because of her success, Kriskova knew she needed a step up in competition.“The reason that I transferred was that I wasn’t getting challenged and I want to play professionally,” Kriskova said, “So I needed to get challenged so I can be better.”After competing against Wisconsin in her first two seasons, she knew greater pastures were available and following a meeting with head coach Kelly Sheffield, Kriskova saw an opportunity at UW.“I came to visit and I just fell in love with the campus, coaches, players and everything else,” Kriskova said.But her path to success did not come without a few major bumps along the way.After making the move to Madison last summer, her volleyball career was jeopardized when she was struck by a car while riding her bike to a volleyball camp.In addition to her completely uprooting her academic and social life, Kriskova faced a year-long recovery that would test her love for the game.“It was hard; I’m not going to lie,” Kriskova said. “I transferred here in the summer and the injury happened and I had to change my major so that was frustrating too. When I got here I didn’t know anyone and I didn’t know the area so I basically came to the unknown.”After a second surgery following a brief comeback last season, she laid the foundation and worked hard to reach where she stands now.Kriskova knew the process would not be easy.“I remember it was Christmas time and I went home and I was relearning to walk,” Kriskova said. “I had to start with little steps and then I was able to keep adding more. This summer I was finally able to add jumping, and then I could play at full speed so it was really just going one day at a time.”Those little steps have been building since last December, and Kriskova has become an integral part of one of the top front lines in the nation.Her improved play gives Badgers setter Lauren Carlini a wide variety of options to use when attacking the opposing defense, and Sheffield has certainly noticed the improvement.“[Kriskova] and [Carlini] are starting to get a better connection,” Sheffield said. “I think she is hitting with better range because she is a lot more confident.”The redshirt junior’s confidence and strong play on the court have grown from a youth career that involved representing her home nation of Slovakia in various international competitions.Now, Kriskova has translated the pride she gained from wearing her national team’s colors into an unabashed love for all things cardinal and white.“I love playing at the Field House, and it is really loud here and people come to every game,” Kriskova said. “We always have around 5,000 people and it is just insane. I love it.”The Grateful Red aren’t the only ones taking notice of Kriskova’s game; her teammates are also thrilled by the way she’s playing.Sophomore outside hitter Kelli Bates said Kriskova’s progress is not just good for her own confidence, but also the betterment of the team.“With [Kriskova] getting all of these kills and completely earning her spot,” sophomore Kelli Bates said, “It makes it a lot easier on me to get the kills when I need to.”But even as she is finally playing to her full potential, Kriskova still remembers what it felt like to watch from the sidelines.“It was hard to sit and watch volleyball because I am one of those kids who can never sit and just watch, so it was hard mentally,” Kriskova said.With the way she is spiking the ball now — she had a team high 15 kills against Illinois — Kriskova shouldn’t have worry about her view from the sidelines any longer.last_img

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