Of all the St. Charles East players excited about the school's seventh state appearance this weekend, setter Erienne Barry has a couple extra reasons.
It was just a year ago that a knee injury cut short her sophomore year midway through the season. When the team took the court and lost a heartbreaking sectional final against York 25-23, 25-23 after they led by 9 points in both games in 2010, all Barry could do was watch from the bench and offer encouraging words.
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That's nothing like she's used to ever since she stepped on the court as a freshman and emerged as setter who could not only run the offense but put up a tough block on the front row.
So needless to say, Barry is thrilled to not just be back playing at her high standards but on a team headed to state.
"Words can't describe it," Barry said following Saturday's victory over Glenbrook South in the Class 4A York supersectional. "We have all worked so hard. It means the world to me. I can't explain it."
Barry had an ice pack on her right knee while she was talking but said it was no big deal.
"It (the knee) is stronger than before," Barry said.
"I have never had a doubt. From the moment I did it I said I want to be back where I should be. It feels right again. It's fun."
Barry, who injured the knee in a match against St. Charles North, said the most frustrated she became during the rehab was several months into it during the club season.
"At the four-month mark when you feel you can go and you can't and during club season with Fusion it was hard to watch everyone play and not be able to play," Barry said. "I give all the credit in the world to my teammates, they helped me through it."
Those teammates are just as glad to have Barry back lofting those sets.
"She has had a great year coming back after a year like last year," senior Meghan Niski said. "That must have been so hard for her. I'm really proud of her. She's been working hard. She only started playing in April and look what she's doing now. She's carrying us, she has the team on her back and running the show. I'm really proud of her."
"It's awesome having her back," middle Kathleen Dailey said. "She's positive on the court. She runs the offense well. It's a fast offense, it's really great to have her back."