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Kevin Schnepf, Published September 04 2009

VandenBergh is back for NDSU

It wasn’t like she was gone but Brooke VandenBergh is back.

After struggling last year with knee and shoulder injuries, the North Dakota State junior is showing signs of what made her Summit League volleyball’s top freshman two years ago.

“It’s getting there,” VandenBergh said. “I’m feeling more and more comfortable movement wise.”

Comfortable enough that she was named to the all-tournament team at last weekend’s Florida State Invitational. From her outside hitting position, VandenBergh averaged more than three kills per set – coming up with 11 kills and 11 digs in a win over Florida A&M and blasting 15 kills in a 3-2 loss to Florida State.

“She’s back to doing some nice things offensively,” said Bison head coach Erich Hinterstocker. “The No. 1 thing is her self confidence. Her confidence really dwindled last year.”

That’s because VandenBergh entered last season with no offseason training. She missed the spring season and summertime workouts after undergoing microfracture surgery – in which doctors drilled holes in the bone of her right knee to help regenerate cartilage.

Because of the sore knee, VandenBergh wasn’t jumping like she was her freshman year. As a result, she was swinging differently on her attacks.

“I was adjusting with my shoulder and tendinitis set in,” VandenBergh said. “It really bothered me.”

But after extensive summertime workouts with NDSU strength and conditioning coach Jason Miller, everything is feeling good again for VandenBergh.

“Finally,” she said. “My swing is just not good enough yet for me. I’ve been basically retraining my body to do what it should normally be doing.”

A stronger VandenBergh makes a strong Bison team even stronger. Bison players feel they should have beaten Florida State – a team picked to finish second in the Atlantic Coast Conference which nearly beat No. 5-ranked Florida on Monday.

“We’re happy with the Florida trip, but we know we can produce more,” VandenBergh said. “We’re a little bit fired up over that for this weekend.”

This weekend, the 2-1 Bison play in the Northern Colorado Classic. They will face a 3-1 Northern Colorado team that is picked to finish third in the Big Sky Conference, a 2-1 Miami (Fla.) team that narrowly missed advancing to last year’s NCAA tournament and an 0-4 Eastern Michigan team that lost Tuesday 3-0 to Indiana Purdue-Fort Wayne, picked to finish second behind the Bison in The Summit League.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Kevin Schnepf at (701) 241-5549

Schnepf’s NDSU media blog can be

found at www.areavoices.com