Megan MacIsaac has returned to her place as one of the province's top hitters in high school girls volleyball this season. The 17-year-old East Mountain resident missed all of last season recovering from three concussions and is hoping to help the Cobequid Cougars to a second consecutive provincial championship in Cape Breton.
TRURO - Giving up volleyball was a scary prospect for Megan MacIsaac.
But it was one the 17-year-old East Mountain resident was faced with after suffering her third concussion in a four-month span in September 2012 while playing the game she loves.
"It was a last step but my brain is more important than sports even though I'm really passionate about it," MacIsaac said. "But it really made me ask the question, ‘Is it worth it?"
Now MacIsaac has the opportunity to cap what has been a triumphant return to the game by helping the Cobequid Cougars to a second consecutive Division 1 girls provincial championship. The eight-team tournament, hosted by the Riverview Royals in Coxheath gets underway Friday and runs until Saturday's 1 p.m. medal matches.
"I think it would be amazing," MacIsaac said of the possibility of finishing her high school run with a championship. "Being a senior, it would mean a lot to experience that."
Her situation is a long way from where MacIsaac was at the start of her Grade 11 season. In just her second tournament with the Cougars - following a move from Antigonish where she had played two seasons for the Dr. John Hugh Gillis Royals - MacIsaac suffered her third concussion after getting struck in the head by a spiked ball. Playing at the net as a front-court power, her first two head injuries happened in the same fashion in May 2012.
MacIsaac missed a significant amount of school and after talking with coach Bob Piers, decided it would be best for her to take the rest of the Grade 11 season off.
"Most athletes, all they can think about is getting back to play," Piers said. "But she just realized it wasn't in the cards for her. I'll never forget the quote she said to me - ‘I only have one brain.'"
The time away from the floor was tough on MacIsaac. She was used to running a tight schedule, balancing playing volleyball with her schoolwork. With volleyball missing and unable to take part in any other physical acitvities, she often found herself bored. It wasn't helped by the fact that all of her closest friends were still busy training, practicing and playing.
"I missed my friends and I didn't get to see them a lot," she said.
But that was nothing compared to what she was dealing with physically. Headaches and dizziness were a daily occurrence and bright light was hard on her eyes. She still suffers from those symptoms, although they much less severe, now.
"It was hard," she said. "It was really bad, especially right after it happened."
Missing the season also meant she missed out on helping the Cougars to a provincial championship a year ago in Antigonish.
"I wasn't playing and it was upsetting for sure, even though I was happy for the girls," she said.
MacIsaac decided to get back on the court last winter for the Central Nova club season and it was quickly apparent she wasn't the same player she had been before the injuries.
"She wasn't playing anywhere near what she was capable of," Piers said. "She was very timid and cautious."
But as she got used to playing again, the timidness fell by the wayside and by September, MacIsaac was back on form in time for the start of high school season. She's become a key member of a team that won six of the nine tournaments it entered this season and has reclaimed her place as one of the province's premier hitters.
"She attacks the ball very consistently," Piers said. "She doesn't make a lot of errors. She's one of the best in the province at hitting down the line but she can hit it all over the court too which makes her difficult to defend."
Her performance came to the forefront at the Northumberland region championship against her former Royals two weeks ago, collecting nine kills in the final while also reeling off five consecutive successful serves to close the final set.
"I'm really happy to see the way she's playing more for her sake than for us," Piers said.
MacIsaac loves being back on the court with her friends, right where she belongs and is happy with how this season has gone.
"I think I've come a long way," she said. "It's difficult to think that you may never be physical again."
The Cougars will also have a team entered in the Division 2 girls championship, also in Riverview. They open against the West Kings Wolverines at 2 p.m.
Also entered are Northeast Kings, Riverview, Middleton, Northumberland, Citadel and Per-en-Bas.
The South Colchester Wolves are hosting the Division 3 boys championship Friday and Saturday at the Brookfield high school.
The Wolves open their bid Friday at 2 p.m. when they take on Ecole NDA.
Ecole Acadienne de Truro will also be competing in the event, opening against Ecole Rose des Vents at 6 p.m.
Also in the field are Ecole Par-en-Bas, Middleton, Ecole de Claire and Ecole Beau-Port.
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Cobequid Cougars girls volleyball 2013
Ally Fanning 12
Jackie McClelland 12
Stephanie Tompkins 12
Rachel Sinclair 12
Anissa Blackmore 12
Morgan Marshall 12
Megan MacIsaac 12
Janine Marshall 11
Traveen Singh 11
Amira Faulkner 11
Olivia Cullip 11
Teya Green 11
Maddie Putnam 11
Rachel Van Gestel 11
Morganne Peck 11
Lauren Doane 11
Phoebe Bastarache 11
Kristin Spencer 11
Riley MacEachern 11
Emma Marquis 10
Maddie Bernard 10
Hannah Christie 10
Hannah Roy 10
Cassidy Gallagher 10
Following is a schedule for the NSSAF Division 1 girls volleyball championship Friday and Saturday at Riverview Rural High School in Coxheath, N.S.:
Pool A - Bridgewater, Dr John Hugh Gillis, Lockview, Park View
Pool B - Cobequid, Citadel, Riverview, Sackville
Dr. John Hugh Gillis vs. Lockview, 1 p.m.
Citadel vs. Riverview, 2:30 p.m.
Bridgewater vs. Lockview, 4 p.m.
Cobequid vs. Riverview, 5:30 p.m.
Bridgewater vs. Dr. John Hugh Gillis, 7 p.m.
Cobequid vs. Citadel, 8:30 p.m.
Bridgewater vs. Park View, 1 p.m.
Cobequid vs. Sackville, 2:30 p.m.
Dr. John Hugh Gillis vs. Park View, 4 p.m.
Citadel vs. Sackville, 5:30 p.m.
Lockview vs. Park View, 7 p.m.
Riverview vs. Sackville, 8:30 p.m.
1st Pool A vs. 2nd Pool B, 10 a.m.
3rd Pool A vs. 3rd Pool B, 11:30 a.m.
Championship, 1 p.m.
1st Pool B vs. 2nd Pool A, 10 a.m.
4th Pool A vs. 4th Pool B, 11:30 a.m.
Bronze, 1 p.m.