Women's Volleyball

Loyola Women’s Volleyball Player Reflects on High School Injury, Freshman of the Year Award

Stephanie Miller | The PhoenixSophomore outside hitters Addie Barnes and middle hitter Taylor Venuto block the ball during the 2019 season.

After a freak injury derailed Loyola women’s volleyball sophomore outside hitter Addie Barnes’ high school senior season in 2018, she rallied back to claim the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) Freshman of the Year honors last year. 

The first Loyola women’s volleyball player to ever receive the award, Barnes was also named to the MVC All-Freshman Team and First Team All-MVC. She posted some of the best numbers ever by a first-year athlete, tallying 371 kills, 356 digs, 49 aces and 38 blocks. 

“I think we had a really great team that really helped me achieve that,” Barnes said. “With [Coach Amanda Berkley] fixing some things with my approach, she’s just put a new perspective on it, and each day she’s always reminding me of new things that I can improve on.”

It hasn’t always been smooth sailing for Barnes. After a spontaneous pneumothorax, or collapsed lung, put Barnes out of commission for part of her high school senior season, she said she was able to take that time off to reassess and find ways to help her team off the court. 

“I hated not being able to play but it definitely was a good time for me to sit back and think about my game and things I could improve on,” Barnes said. “I think [my injury] gave me a new perspective on the game.”

Pneumothoraces aren’t injuries often associated with long recoveries or time-consuming rehab, and in Barnes’ case, unable to be reaggravated through physical activity. But there is still risk associated with collapsed lungs — in some cases it can be life-threatening.

“I was a little nervous, because it can happen again, you never know, it was a spontaneous one,” Barnes admitted. “It’s definitely stayed in the back of my mind.”

A spontaneous pneumothorax like Barnes’ is due to the formation of small air sacs in the lung tissue that then rupture, allowing air to leak into the lung cavity and collapse. Barnes said her doctors told her this type of injury is most commonly reported in younger, taller and skinnier people, in cases where lungs can’t grow at the rapid rate of the rest of the body and become stretched and thin. 

Barnes said she remembers staying overnight in the hospital, then spending a few weeks on the mend. Since she had already committed to Loyola at that point, she said her main focuses were to be a good teammate and to use the rest of the season and the summer to prepare for her first collegiate season. 

“Coming back to practice, I could definitely feel my heart and knew I needed to get back into the game,” Barnes said. “I think that really just pushed me to get in the gym and grind.”

A three-time all-state selection coming out of high school in Wisconsin, Barnes wasted no time racking up stats, totaling 14 kills and 10 digs in her Ramblers debut against Western Kentucky Aug. 30, 2019. This season, as the program welcomes eight incoming first-year athletes, she views herself as stepping up into more of a leadership position. She said she also needs to work even harder to keep her spot in the lineup.

While the MVC’s decision to postpone fall sports until spring might seem like just another setback for Barnes, she said she still relishes the opportunity to improve. Individual workouts and intrasquad scrimmages have given she and her teammates time to prepare for what’s likely shaping up to be a tough conference.

Barnes said she’s appreciative of how her injury gave her perspective on all the uncertainty regarding when she’ll play this year. She remembers when her sister, a soccer player, tore her ACL.

“Having that long of a recovery, just watching that was really tough,” Barnes said. “Every time you step on the court you need to appreciate how hard you’ve worked to get here and [to get] this opportunity. If we get a chance to play I’m going to take advantage of it and just enjoy the moment.”

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