Roselle Catholic’s Union County Tournament championship season has been more painful for girls’ volleyball standout senior Briana Fleming than any other Lion.
A returning starter, Fleming suffered a partial team of the anterior crucial ligament of her right knee on the second day of tryouts in August, she said.
Fleming hoped, planned and worked to return to the lineup when RC hosted Union Catholic on Sept. 24, about a month after the injury, but she realized during warm-ups for the Vikings that her knee wasn’t strong enough to compete.
“When Brianna got hurt again right before the UC game it was really sad because she knew she was all ready to return,” said RC senior Danielle Franklin. “She had gone to physical therapy almost every day to be ready to return. She didn’t let anybody tell her she couldn’t or wouldn’t be able to play this season.”
Despite being out of the lineup, Fleming was a positive presence at the varsity volleyball team’s practices and a supportive teammate on the bench during matches.
“It was hard accepting the fact that I wasn’t going to be able to play like I had planned, but I pushed myself to get back on the court and do as much as I could to help my team in my senior year,” said Fleming, a three-year varsity player. “Being sidelined for most of the season was upsetting, but I wanted to be there for my team until the very end.”
Fleming even got back on the court to provide additional inspiration to her teammates this season, making her season’s debut against Bishop Ahr at Roselle Catholic’s annual “Spike Breast Cancer” event on Oct. 11. Much to the delight of RC fans, Coach Jason Davila inserted Fleming to serve, a substitution that drew loud cheers from the “Pink-ed Out” RC student section.
“The smile on her and the team’s faces was priceless,” Coach Davila said. “Despite being injured, she came to every practice. She supported her team and practiced serving. I think she was a motivating factor for the team.”
“It was such a touching moment when everybody cheered for Brianna at the annual breast cancer game,” Franklin said. “I think her family, her friends and teammates and the RC family gave her a lot of motivation.”
Fleming scored four service points, including three aces, in the Lions’ triumph against Bishop Ahr.
“It makes me feel so proud to see the support from my team, students and fans,”said Fleming, who served two points in a state tournament victory against Mount St. Dominic. “All I can do is smile and be proud that I had an opportunity to be back on the court, serving and helping out the team.”