Top Cat: Allie Hueston finding success after injury

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Top Cat: Allie Hueston finding success after injury

Junior middle hitter Allie Hueston has 81 kills on the season despite playing in only 44 sets. Hueston was sidelined early in the season with a shoulder injury.

Junior middle hitter Allie Hueston has 81 kills on the season despite playing in only 44 sets. Hueston was sidelined early in the season with a shoulder injury.

Sean Hastings

Junior middle hitter Allie Hueston has 81 kills on the season despite playing in only 44 sets. Hueston was sidelined early in the season with a shoulder injury.

Sean Hastings

Sean Hastings

Junior middle hitter Allie Hueston has 81 kills on the season despite playing in only 44 sets. Hueston was sidelined early in the season with a shoulder injury.

Maher Kawash, Volleyball Reporter

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Injuries are always one of the toughest and most difficult things to endure in sports, but that has not stopped junior Allie Hueston from succeeding with the Eastern volleyball team.

In fact, it has just been another step in what has been an accolade-filled career through her first two and a half years as a Panther.

Hueston tore her labrum in the spring season, leading to her being sidelined for the first 14 games of this season. Hueston returned to the court with her team last month.

“I definitely think the shoulder injury was a setback, but I think it helped me realize what I needed to do to get better,” Hueston said.

The injury rehab process is never easy, and for Hueston there was a tall hill to climb to recover in the past year.

“Volleyball is her passion and she was determined to get back out on the court,” Eastern coach Sam Wolinski said. “Her injury was not going to be a detriment to what she loves doing and that is volleyball.”

Hueston said it took a lot of rehab then and now to recover, but even the rehab and recover cannot prevent the occasional soreness that still comes around.

While the soreness comes and goes, it has not impacted her game since returning.

“I just have to warm up a lot longer than what I usually would,” Hueston said. “I always feel it, but I never think it really affects me; it’s just I have two years left so why not get through it.”

Since rejoining the squad, Hueston has not only gotten better but she has become one of the leaders on a young Eastern team.

“Allie is the model of consistency when she is out on the court, and has such an even keel demeanor,” Wolinski said.

As the Panthers carry on this season with no seniors, that demeanor is needed from Hueston as one of Eastern’s leaders.

Hueston said she is not your typical veteran.

“I don’t mind the role, but I’m not much a vocal leader because I like to just lead by example,” Hueston said. “It’s easy on the court because I don’t have to say much.”

Her attack may be quiet, but it has not only benefited the Panthers leadership; it has also led to positive numbers on the court.

Hueston’s most recent success came after she combined 25 kills in two matches against Tennessee Tech and Jacksonville State last weekend.

That has been the story for Hueston in her short time back with the team.

She has notched 10 or more kills four times this season, and has had at least five in every match but one.

The immediate success does not come as a surprise considering the success Hueston had before her injury.

In her freshman year, Hueston earned honors as a member of the OVC All-Newcomer Team while competing in all 31 matches that season.

More of the same continued in her sophomore campaign as she ranked third in program history with a .346 hitting percentage before injuring her shoulder.

Her stellar numbers that season were good enough for Hueston to be named to the All-OVC team.

Now a year removed, she is headed back in that direction.

Junior Allie Hueston attempts a kill Friday Oct. 7 against Austin Peay at Lanz Arena. Hueston led the Panthers in blocks with six in the 3-0 loss.

Bryan Bund
Junior Allie Hueston attempts a kill Friday Oct. 7 against Austin Peay at Lanz Arena. Hueston led the Panthers in blocks with six in the 3-0 loss.

In just 11 games since her return to the court, she has also posted 110 total points this season with an additional 53 blocks.

The recent success continued with a season high 17.5 points against Jacksonville State for her fourth time in double-digit scoring this year.

While Hueston said she is more of a quiet leader, her performance and coach say otherwise.

“She became way more active giving feedback and cheering on her teammates,” Wolinski said. “From a playing standpoint, she has improved her blocking skills and is learning to make herself a more effective point scorer out of the middle.”

But the difference this time around is the team Hueston returns to the court with.

“Last year we had really good leaders, and we hope to be that for the younger girls,” Hueston said. “It’s just kind of taking what they taught us on and off court such as being there for the young girls whether its volleyball, school, or college in general.”

The first two seasons were not only filled with success for her, but her team as well.

Hueston was a part of an Eastern squad that made its way to the conference tournament last year, but this season has been more of a rebuild.

“We’ve been getting better, and it can really only go up from here,” she said. “I think we’ve realized a lot of things along the way, and it was just a big adjustment in the beginning.”

The Panthers may have had some struggles, but Hueston is still positive in her team and personal play.

“Everybody gets down and it’s not fun to lose, but losing makes you want to win more than you ever have,” Hueston said. “I definitely think there is motivation there for everybody.”

The regular season is in its final stretch before the postseason tournament, but Hueston has one goal and that is improvement.

“I just want to keep making my game strong, and helping the younger girls with their volleyball IQ and mental part of the game,” Hueston said.

Hueston’s contributions to the team have not gone unnoticed, and Wolinski realized that when the junior was sidelined.

“When she had to miss part of the season that was very difficult for her, but she learned how to help her teammates,” Wolinski said.

With over a year left to still help her teammates as well as her own play, Hueston has already posted consistent numbers in her career.

Through a little over two and a half seasons, the junior has a .295 career hitting percentage and 647 kills overall.

Before missing part of this season to injury, Hueston had at least 260 kills in her first two seasons as well as 81 in 11 matches this season.

Hueston has six matches left on the 2016 campaign and as far as health goes, her performance has masked any injury on and off the court for the Eastern volleyball team.

Maher Kawash can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]