- Associated Press - Monday, September 29, 2014

NATCHITOCHES, La. (AP) - Northwestern State senior libero Keelie Arneson has ruptured her Achilles tendon, ending her season after playing in just 10 games.

Coach Hugh Hernesman said Monday the injury happened Friday at practice.

“This is probably the toughest time I’ve had as a coach in 20 years,” Hernesman said. “To have to face someone knowing that their season is over becomes really hard.”

Hernesman said there’s some hope that Arneson, of Tomball, Texas, could potentially be allowed a fifth-year of eligibility by the NCAA.

“Early indications right now is that she’ll get a medical hardship so her career isn’t over so that’s probably the good news if there is any in this,” Hernesman said. “If she would have had played one more match (before the injury) her career would have been over.”

The defending Southland Conference Libero of the Year tallied 30 plus digs in six matches including a career-high 46 in five sets against Jacksonville State on Sept. 19. The total ranks Arneson second in school history in digs in a match trailing only Tanya Champagne’s feat of 58 in 1985.

Arneson holds the benchmark for digs in a season after breaking the NSU record each of the last three seasons, including surpassing her own mark the past two years. The Tomball, Texas native holds the top three spots in digs with 712 in 2013, 618 in 2012 and 539 in 2011.

She also ranks first in school history with 2,135 career digs, a record Arneson eclipsed prior to the midway point of the 2013 season and has continued adding on to since.

Taking over at libero will be sophomore Bailey Martin who stepped in earlier this season after Arneson was out with an unrelated injury. In limited action at that position, Martin has already accumulated 127 digs including 39 at Mississippi State on Sept. 13, a feat that ranks fourth in NSU history.

Northwestern State (4-11, 1-1 SLC) opens home play Thursday against Abilene Christian (2-13, 0-2 SLC). Admission is free.

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