Chloe Ferrari’s return keys championship season
Although the pain wasn’t intense, Chloe Ferrari knew immediately that something was very wrong.
The then-junior and First-Team West Coast Conference (WCC) middle hitter had just leaped for a spike attempt in a pivotal match against Pepperdine University, a contest that would likely determine the 2012 WCC Women’s Volleyball champion. As she landed, she felt a ‘pop’ in her right knee, and shortly thereafter headed to the bench for an evaluation from the team trainer.
The assessment was bleak, to say the least: a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and a lengthy six-to-eight month recovery and rehabilitation period before she could return to the court.
“I remember everything about that play, and I remember the feeling I had when I found out it was a torn ACL,” Ferrari recalls, over a year removed from the devastating diagnosis. “I was just in shock, really. You know there’s nothing you can do, and you also know that you’ve got a long road back to recovery.”
Living life on the couch the first few weeks after surgery was a real struggle, but she also knew that the 2013 squad had the potential for greatness, and there was no way she wasn’t going to be in the starting rotation when the season kicked off late last August.
“It was such a mental game at the start of my rehab,” Ferrari says. “But once the doctors gave me the green light to start working out, it was on.”
The rehab was rigorous, and the telling moment came when, in one of her first comeback practices with the team, she had to repeat the same movements she made when the injury occurred. “That was definitely the toughest part for me,” she says. “Repeating that same approach and swing … I just had to suck it up and get through it, and I did.”
Ferrari hasn’t looked back since, and neither have the Toreros. The team reached the No. 2 ranking in the nation — the first team in USD history to do so at the Division I level — following a historic, early-season win over then-No. 1-ranked USC in front of a packed house at the Jenny Craig Pavilion. A driving force behind USD’s impressive run to their second straight conference title, Ferrari garnered WCC Player of the Year honors for the 2013 season.
“She has been phenomenal,” says USD Volleyball Head Coach Jennifer Petrie. “This whole road back she worked her tail off and never lost focus on her goal. I think she played better this season than she did all of last year, which is a testament to her commitment and focus.”