Her statistics weren’t impressive, but that isn’t important. For Missouri middle blocker Melissa Allbery, just being able to finally play was what mattered.
Allbery, a redshirt sophomore, played in her first game as a Tiger on Tuesday in a 30-13, 30-11,30-13 win against the University of Missouri-Kansas City (1-6). MU is 3-0.
Allbery finished with one kill in seven attacks with two errors and three block assists.
“It was really exciting to finally get out there after putting in a lot of hard work off the court and then going through rehabilitation for my ACL, shoulder and then my surgery last spring,” Allbery said. “It felt good to finally get out there.”
The road back has been a long and painful one for Allbery. She redshirted her freshman year after having shoulder surgery before coming to MU. The next spring, she suffered extensive ligament damage in her left knee.
In October, Allbery broke her hand. In the spring, Allbery’s knee was giving her problems again, so she opted to have surgery.
“Too many injuries are falling on me, but it’s finally paid off to get in there,” Allbery said.
Senior setter Lindsey Hunter said she tried to give Allbery more sets since she had been working hard.
“I think it’s really good for her (playing),” Hunter said. “It’s going to give her a lot of confidence. It’s really sad seeing somebody that works so hard and has bad luck, so I’m really glad she got in tonight and she did a very nice job.”
Allbery’s entered in the second game of the match. She didn’t know if she was going to start the game or play on Tuesday.
“I figured maybe I would get in tonight, but then in the second game (associate coach) Susan (Kreklow) was like ‘You ready to go in Mel?’,” Allbery said. “I just said, ‘Let’s go do it.’”
Defensive specialists Jilly Jaksich and Sarah Entzeroth also saw their first playing time at MU in the match.
“We were hoping we would get an opportunity to get some of these people in,” coach Wayne Kreklow said.
“Everyday those guys are working their rear ends off and challenging that group (the starters) all the time. Any opportunity we can get to have them get out on game night and play is something that they have earned. It was good for us to be able to do that.”
Outside hitters Na Yang and Jessica Vander Kooi led the No. 14 Tigers offensively with 13 kills each. Outside hitter Shen Danru and libero Tatum Ailes each had nine digs to lead the team defensively.