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Can't keep her down

By aalvarado
Oct. 17, 2010 at 5:17 a.m.

Industrial's Taylor Murphree overcame a back injury five years ago to become one of the top players on a team looking to make a deep playoff run. Murphree is among the area's leaders in kills.

ScheduleOct. 19 at Van Vleck*, 7 p.m.

Oct. 22 at Rice Consolidated, 5:30 p.m.

Oct. 26 at Tidehaven*, 7 p.m.

Nov. 1-2 Bi-District Playoffs

Nov. 4-6 Area Playoffs

*Denotes District 26-2A game

VANDERBILT - In the summer of 2005, Taylor Murphree was having fun on a water slide at a friend's house.

A fun day quickly made a wrong turn.

"I was being a daredevil like I used to always be and I jumped off the side and I just landed wrong," Murphree said.

When she landed, she fractured her back.

Murphree's mother, Brenda, was mowing the lawn when she got the phone call and news of the accident. Brenda said Taylor has a high tolerance for pain and didn't cry until doctors told her she couldn't play in an upcoming select basketball tournament.

"When we got the news of what it actually was, it was devastating. I tried not to cry in front of her and be strong," Brenda Murphree said.

Although she was upset about taking time off the basketball court, Murphree's resilience showed when she soon started thinking about what she could do to hit the hardwood sooner.

Four months later, Murphree returned to the basketball court and suffered another setback.

"As soon as I got my back brace off, I was back in athletics the next day, which I shouldn't have done," Murphree said. "Two weeks after that, I sprained my back in a game because I rushed into it."

Five years later, Murphree is back on top.

She's among the Advocate-area leaders with 347 kills and 342 digs this season while playing through the increased likelihood of re-injury.

Industrial coach Sandra Fellers has seen Murphree play at a different level.

"To see where she is this year, this is where this kid could have been all along had she not been plagued by injury," Fellers said.

The senior is now a leader on an Industrial team that has won seven of their eight District 26-2A games and has a 24-8 record.

Brenda admits that the fear of re-injury is always in the back of her mind when she watches her daughter from the stands.

"I think she has some talent, but she also works really hard to do what she can do and I'd hate to take that away from her," Brenda said.

Murphree followed in her older sister Brianna's footsteps and took up volleyball when she entered Industrial. As a freshman, Fellers was so impressed by Murphree's raw potential that she was promoted to the Cobras junior varsity team.

"She didn't realize how good she was even at that level, but she was willing to learn and she was willing to take it seriously and she didn't mind playing with older players," Fellers said.

Murphree made it to the varsity squad in 2008 and the 2009 season looked promising. Then in the third game of the season she suffered a back hernia.

Murphree ended up missing the next 17 games and returned in limited action for Industrial's district game against Danbury.

Although the Cobras lost that match, her return re-invigorated the Cobras as they won their last nine district games and made it the state regional semifinals.

"Last year it was just like pouring gasoline on a fire when she was able to come back and it totally turned around the season," Fellers said.

Although Murphree admits that the fear of another back injury is always on her mind on the court, she won't change her style of play.

"It's not going to affect what I do, but I'm always thinking about it," Murphree said. "I'm never careful, nor should I be. If it happens, it happens."

Added Fellers: "Taylor lives daily with pain and it's a chronic pain and her injury is a chronic injury. I don't think she plays tentative at all."

At the beginning of the season, the Cobras set short -term team goals. Although they dropped their last game to Edna, the Cobras are still in position to win the district and after that a return trip to the regional semifinals is very possible.

Although the injuries have caused her physical pain, Murphree said they have made her mentally tougher.

"It's given me incentive not to quit when things get tough."

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