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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Arizona volleyball’s Nicholson plays on despite chronic injury

Larry Hogan / Arizona Daily Wildcat Candace Nicholson, No. 33, and the UA volleyball team play against Iona on Sept. 7, 2012.

Junior libero Candace Nicholson is a pivotal member of the Arizona volleyball team, as she is the only player on the team with two years of program experience. At the moment she is fighting through a rib injury, but hasn’t let that keep her off the court.

Arizona athletics trainer Emily Johnson said Nicholson’s rib inflammation is likely to persist until the end of the season. She said that multiple irritated muscles cause Nicholson’s ribs to shift out of place.

Nicholson has been the starting defensive player for every match this season, an impressive feat despite her injury. During matches, a heating pad is prepared for Nicholson every time head coach Dave Rubio calls a time out.

“Sometimes she’ll hit the floor and I won’t think that she might get up, but then she always does,” sophomore outside hitter Taylor Arizobal said.

The team relies heavily on a solid defense to compete in the Pac-12. Nicholson leads the team with 199 digs this season and averages 4.33 digs per set, more than double any of her fellow teammates. A full-time starting position along with an average of 10 hours of practice each week can take a toll on strained muscles.

Nicholson said her rib bruising and chronic back problems have steadily gotten more painful and uncomfortable in the last month.

“I started having back problems spring of my freshman year and then, just as college has gone on, it’s gotten worse,” Nicholson said. “It doesn’t stop me from doing anything, so I’ve just kind of learned to deal with it.”

Nicholson’s teammates are also taking notice of her tougness and good attitude

“Candace is definitely a fighter,” junior setter Chanel Brown said. “She has a lot of things that go on with her body, but you would never tell if she’s in a game or in practice. She never complains about it, no matter what her body is not allowing her to do. So it’s good for our team to see how hard she works, even through pain.”

Nicholson said that despite the major discomfort she feels every time her muscles are strained, she will continue to play. Once she is done playing volleyball, she doesn’t anticipate any long-term damage.

“It’s because we practice so much. You never get a chance to let anything heal, so it’s just overuse,” Nicholson said.

Along with back pains, which are improving, and her irritated ribs, Nicholson will also have to undergo wrist surgery sometime in the future after two seasons of playing injured.

“Candace is by far one of the toughest student athletes I’ve ever worked with,” Johnson said. “Volleyball is very unforgiving but she still gets out there and it’s my job to make sure she’s as comfortable as possible.”

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