Andrew Mishler

A promising start to the 2010 season for Marcus Imwalle ended all too quickly.

But it's a new year for the Ball State men's volleyball team, and redemption has come for the senior outsider attacker.

In a match against George Mason early last season, Imwalle suffered an injury to his meniscus. What started as an injury that was planned to have a two-month recovery time quickly turned into a frustrating series of surgeries that eventually ended Imwalle's season.

"After that first surgery, I didn't think I was going to be out for the entire season," Imwalle said. "As soon as I woke up after that first surgery, they told me that they ended up repairing it and I was going to be out for the entire season. I wasn't really mad; I was more disappointed that I wasn't going to finish the season with my teammates."

Following Imwalle's first surgery to repair his meniscus, he spent two months on the sideline, patiently waiting to get back into action.

But then, according to coach Joel Walton, something went wrong.

A setback in Imwalle's recovery forced doctors to perform a second surgery. After another two months of recovery that eventually took away Imwalle's 2010 season, his injury once again flared up. It forced doctors to operate an additional time.

It proved to be one of the most frustrating times in Imwalle's athletic career.

"Watching all my teammates play and sitting on the bench, that was really hard," Imwalle said. "Just because it wasn't one time, it was multiple times. I wanted to work as hard as I could to prove that I was able to get back out there."

After months of rehab, Imwalle has entered the 2011 season relatively healthy and ready to play. Now a month into the season, his hard work is finally paying off.

In the past four matches, the senior outside attacker has racked up 35 kills and nine service aces, eight of those aces coming in one match against Sacred Heart.

Most recently, Imwalle led Ball State with 11 kills at home against Limestone last Saturday.

While Imwalle only played in four games in the first three matches to start the season, his playing time quickly took a jump. He's now played in nine games in the last three matches, starting two of them.

"His opportunities would only come if the guys who started at the beginning of the season were struggling," Walton said. "And when that time came, he was going to need to play very well to convince us that he was the best guy for the starting position."

"The door has been left open, and Marcus has stepped in and played well. I feel like at this point in time, with him in the starting group, that's our best group of players."

Even Imwalle was surprised by his quick comeback to start the season.

"I never thought I would get back to this level," Imwalle said. "In the preseason, I talked to [Walton] and he was pretty set on me playing libero. It feels really nice to get back on the court with the guys. Being my senior year, it makes it even more special."