The Paper file photo by Lori Poteet 
North Montgomery sophomore Kelsi Byrd suffered a torn ACL this past weekend and will miss the rest of the volleyball season.
The Paper file photo by Lori Poteet
North Montgomery sophomore Kelsi Byrd suffered a torn ACL this past weekend and will miss the rest of the volleyball season.
North Montgomery's volleyball team will once again have to rally together after a serious injury to one of its players.

Sophomore Kelsi Byrd suffered a torn ACL during while playing in an Amateur Athletic Union basketball tournament in Chicago this past weekend and will miss the rest of the volleyball season.

It's another blow to the Chargers, who are contending for their fourth straight Sagamore Athletic Conference championship and trying to win the Indiana High School Athletic Association Southmont Sectional.

They've done it before - and head coach Jodi Webster is confident they can do it again. Though, she wishes it would stop happening.

"It's one of those things you don't want to see happen. But we've had significant injuries over the past four years," Webster said. "The girls know how to deal with it. The girls know how to cope with it."

For the fourth straight year, a North Montgomery volleyball player has missed a substantial part of the season because of a major injury or illness.

In 2007, then-freshman Tori Bowerman (a 2010 graduate) tore an ACL during warm-ups of the Charger's first round IHSAA sectional match against Delphi and missed North Montgomery's IHSAA regional championship run. Two years ago, then-senior Jessica Evans contracted viral meningitis and missed more than half the season. And last year, it was junior Nicole Kingma who tore her left ACL and missed nearly all of the season.

Both Evans and Kingma returned for the postseason, while it took Bowerman a full year to recover.

Kingma suffered her knee injury just two games into the season last year. But less than two months later and after a serious, intense rehab process, she was back on the court. She recorded the Chargers' set- and match-winning point in a 25-14, 25-16, 25-11 IHSAA first-round Western Boone Sectional victory over conference foe Lebanon.

She's been there before, as has Byrd's older sister, senior Sami, who tore an ACL a couple of years back.

Even older brother, 2009 North Montgomery graduate and Purdue University sophomore D.J. Byrd suffered a knee injury (tearing the cartilage of the meniscus in his left knee) during his senior year at North Montgomery.

He missed a game and a half before returning for the IHSAA North Montgomery Sectional and leading the Chargers to the sectional crown and into the IHSAA Shelbyville Regional championship game.

So, Kelsi (116 kills, 31 digs) has plenty of friends to lean on - or get advice from on how to deal with this type of injury.

"Nicole was over there Saturday with Kelsi," Webster said. "The girls are pretty tight. They share a lot. I'm sure everybody will be there for her. Sami has also had ACL surgery. She'll be there to get her through."

The Chargers still got through another conference rival on Monday night, sweeping Lebanon and improving to 17-7 overall and 4-0 in conference play.

But they'll need another push - and some youth to grow up in a bit more of a hurry.

Webster knows she'll have strong leadership from four of her veterans.

Senior Kelly Kyle, an NCAA Division I Butler University recruit, totaled team-highs of 21 kills and 10 digs in that game. She leads the Chargers in kills (425) and digs (208). There's also junior Mackenzie Carpenter (team-high 302 assists) and Byrd's sister Sami (185 digs and 108 kills) and Kingma (92 kills, 60 assists, 22 digs) who she'll need to play even stronger. Junior Katie McIntyre (200 digs and 58 aces) should also provide a key scoring threat.

But Webster still thinks youth will be their answer.

Somewhere, they need an added contribution from a younger player or two. Those could come from sophomore Kiersten Hayes, Brieanna Smith and Paytin Krutzsch or freshman Shelby Delp and Bethany Mathison.

Mathison totaled two assists against the Tigers, while Krutzsch and Delp each had one dig.

Webster acknowledged they are still trying to figure out that line-up and Saturday's North Montgomery Invitational may be key in doing so. Next week, they take on conference co-leader Frankfort and rival Tri-West for the chance to claim another SAC title.

"Sami and Nicole and Kelly are our senior leadership and already have pretty permanent positions on the court. Junior-wise we have Katie on the court, McKenzie as a setter and Racheal Salinas as a defensive specialist. Our sophomores and freshmen we're looking for as answers to this one," Webster said. "There might be some shifts, but with people who have seen varsity time and seen varsity experience behind them."