Nikki Kinnier battles back from injury to be key leader of Hofstra volleyball team

Courtesy Hofstra Athletic Communications
After suffering a season-ending stress facture injury last year only six matches into her college volleyball career, Hofstra freshman outside hitter Nikki Kinnier immediately became determined to return to the court. Following many months of extensive rehab Kinnier is back in full force this fall and as only a red-shirt freshman has become one of Hofstra volleyball’s key leaders on and off the court.

In four of Hofstra’s first 16 matches Kinnier has posted double digits in both kills and digs. In the Pride’s three-game sweep of Fairfield on Wednesday night Sept. 22 at the Mack Sports complex, Kinnier recorded 13 kills and 12 digs.

“She keeps trying to get better and trying to take on this bigger role and bigger responsibility,” said Hofstra volleyball head coach Kristina Hernandez. “She is a tough competitor."

Kinnier spent much of last fall in a boot and was not able to start pushing hard at volleyball practice until spring workouts. The Elkton, Md. native then spent nearly the entire summer on Hofstra’s campus taking classes and getting in shape for the 2010 season. Despite the pain suffered recovering from last year's injury, Kinnier looks at the situation as a positive in that the experience has driven her to work even harder.

“It definitely made me a lot more tougher this year because it was just driving me more and more to want to stay healthy and be able to play throughout this whole season,” said Kinnier, a graduate of St. Mark’s High School in Wilmington, Del. who was the 2008 Gatorade Player of the Year in Delaware. “[The injury] definitely was a drive in preparing me more mentally and physically for this season.”

In addition to Kinnier’s athleticism on the volleyball court she has proven to be just as solid in the classroom, receiving a Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) Commissioner's Academic Award last season. Kinnier, who is planning to attend medical school after graduation, balanced her summer workouts at Hofstra with a grueling chemistry class.

"She is really focused with what her goals are and what she wants to do academically and with her career here," said Hernandez. "She has shown a lot of dedication."

Hofstra opens its CAA schedule on Friday at William & Mary and Kinnier along with her Pride teammates are determined to be one of the four teams that reaches the conference playoffs in November after missing out on the postseason last year. “That is our main drive,” said Kinnier of the the Pride's desire to reach the CAA Championships. “We work for it everyday.”

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