Utah volleyball player Berkeley Oblad gets lost in the description, somewhere among the torn ligaments and the cadaver hamstring and the drilling and wrapping that went into the surgical procedure.
She just knows her elbow feels a lot better.
Oblad is enjoying a healthy, productive replay of her senior year, with surgery having ended her 2018 season shortly after it started. The middle blocker recently became the sixth Ute player to post 1,000 kills and 400 blocks in her career, while helping No. 16 Utah navigate another demanding Pac-12 schedule.
The Utes (19-8, 11-5 Pac-12) are tied for third place in the conference, having experienced the mixed results of 11 five-set matches. The potential for two more endurance tests comes this weekend, with No. 4 Stanford and No. 24 California visiting the Huntsman Center on Friday and Sunday.
Those matches are emotionally and physically draining, and Oblad loves them. “It's a blast,” she said.
At the Huntsman Center
Friday • vs. No. 4 Stanford, 7 p.m.
Sunday • vs. No. 24 California, Noon.
She appreciates everything about a senior year when she's healthy, having once resorted to blocking balls in practice with one arm. Having gone through other medical issues during her college career, Oblad was disappointed to be sidelined last season, but happy to learn what was wrong: two torn ligaments in her right elbow.
Oblad treasures the “little victories” of rehabilitation, gradually being able to bend and straight her elbow and finally losing the numbness in her little finger. Only in August, not long before the season started, was she able to take a 100% swing at the ball.
So she was thrilled when the Utes opened the season with a three-set upset of then-No. 7 Kentucky in the Utah Classic. “I’ve been looking forward to this day for a long time,” Oblad said, “playing without pain and having fun. Unbelievable.”
Same story, as this season has developed. “She’s playing the best of her career, by far,” Ute coach Beth Launiere said. “She’s definitely playing with some reckless abandon right now. She’s going for it. I’m just so happy for her. She had her mind set that this was going to be a great year, and she’s been an amazing leader.”
It has been a memorable season for Oblad’s family, with siblings who were born in the Salt Lake Valley (the family’s home now is in Henderson, Nev.) playing big roles in two sports at two schools. Kenyon Oblad has become UNLV’s starting quarterback as a redshirt freshman, so Jeromy and Jody Oblad regularly have come to Salt Lake City for a Ute volleyball match on a Friday, flown to UNLV’s football game on Saturday and returned to Utah’s campus on Sunday.
The parents are enjoying this fall much more than last year, when Berkeley was sidelined and Kenyon was waiting his turn to play. The only downside is UNLV’s 2-8 football record, but Utah’s volleyball success is rewarding for Berkeley and her family. “It’s been really awesome to just play volleyball,” she said. “It’s been nice to play to a season when I haven’t had to deal with pain.”