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Molly Haggerty photo

Molly Haggerty, a 6-foot-1 outside hitter from Glen Ellyn, Illinois, led the Badgers last year with an average of 3.41 kills per set. She set a school record with 27 kills in a 3-set match against Texas A&M.

Molly Haggerty might have been able to make it back on the court this season for the University of Wisconsin volleyball team, but she knew she wouldn’t be the real Molly Haggerty.

Haggerty came to that conclusion in recent days and told coach Kelly Sheffield on Monday she wanted to redshirt this season to give her time to completely recover from offseason back surgery. She will have three seasons of eligibility remaining.

“I’m the type of person that wants to go out there and perform the best that I can,” said Haggerty, a 6-foot-1 outside hitter from Glen Ellyn, Illinois. “I like to get those big kills and be that leader on the court.

“I think right now I just need to get back to where I was, because I’m still trying to build that back up. Going on the court I’d be really frustrated with myself because I don’t want to be an average player, I want to be the best on the court. And I’m not right now.”

Haggerty certainly was last season when she earned Big Ten Conference Freshman of the Year and third-team All-America honors as she led UW with an average of 3.41 kills per set.

She had surgery to repair a herniated disk in her back in January and was unable to participate in volleyball activities until the start of practice in August.

Haggerty was determined to see if she could get back into form in time to play at some point this season. She met with Sheffield on Friday and they set an Oct. 20 deadline to decide if she’d be able to play, but after thinking on it for a couple days Haggerty decided it would be best to not push things.

“When Kelly first mentioned the possibility last summer I knew right away I didn’t want to redshirt,” Haggerty said. “That wasn’t an option. He told me it’s going to take time to get back to what I was and I listened to that, but at the same time, I guess I just wanted to prove him wrong. He was right.

“I’ve been out for so long and I don’t think going in and playing right now would be best for myself and the team. So I just want to train this whole season and get back to what I was and even better than that.”

Sheffield said Haggerty has made steady progress in practice but she still wasn’t as explosive as she had been and it could take awhile to get to that level.

“What we’re seeing right now from Molly is a player that every week is getting a little bit stronger,” Sheffield said. “But her jump still is 2½ to 3 inches from where it was last year and that’s a big difference. It’s a big increase from where it was a month ago, but we’re starting to run out of time.

“We’re just a little bit shy of Molly being able to be Molly. But the cool thing that we’ve seen is that she’s on the path to being back.”

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Dennis Punzel covers Wisconsin Badgers volleyball, women's basketball for the Wisconsin State Journal.