MERRILLVILLE | At the end of the girls basketball season, Lauren Stazinski popped the meniscus in her right knee and it tore.
She missed the remainder of Andrean's season, including the sectional. She had surgery on Feb. 15 and six weeks later, through rehab and recovery, she was ready to return to whatever court would take her, be it volleyball or basketball.
As her senior season of volleyball is in its third week, she leads her 59ers team in kills with 71, she has 45 blocks and 17 digs.
Her coach says she'd never have known that her top middle hitter had a knee injury if she hadn't been told when it happened.
"You always notice something when someone has a knee surgery, with her, nothing, I couldn't even tell you what knee it's on," Andrean coach Julie Wiejak said. "You don't see any guarding, you don't see any playing-it-safe, you don't see any instance and literally, I don't even know what knee it's on. I love that.
"It's a credit to how she does everything. Why wouldn't she attack rehab the same way she attacked the ACT, and basketball and volleyball. Rehab, oh wait, 110 percent."
The humble volleyball player, who is also the president of Andrean's National Honor Society, who earned a 33 on her ACT, and who was the winter formal queen last year, isn't a braggadocio about any of her accomplishments. She works hard, goes home and works some more.
With her knee injury, it was like homework, another goal to work toward.
"I feel like it was the best injury you could have," Stazinski said. "I had to have surgery but after six weeks, I was good to go."
A multi-talented athlete, Stazinski played junior varsity volleyball and ran cross country as a freshman. When she was elevated to the varsity volleyball team as a sophomore, her cross country career was over, but she was still the fastest runner on the volleyball team. By minutes, her coach said.
"She's so unassuming that you're never like, 'Oh, she almost aced the ACT,'" Wiejak said, "You know, in her spare time when she's not playing basketball or volleyball or club for both of those sports."
Volleyball won over soccer in the fifth grade when Stazinski was picking a fall sport. The reason is simple, she said.
"(Teammate) Marija Nicksic compared it once to keep the balloon off the ground, it's so much fun when you're a kid, that's exactly what volleyball is, just with a ball and teammates," Stazinski said. "The whole concept of it is naturally fun. I feel like everyone who plays volleyball enjoys it."
With a plethora of talented outside hitters on her team, she's a middle hitter who has been set more than 30 times per match multiple times this year.
With her athleticism and so many options available, whether she elects to find a school that offers her a volleyball scholarship, a basketball scholarship or neither, Stazinski plans to find somewhere that she can be a student first. Her plan is to major in nutrition.
"The world's her oyster," Wiejak said. "Everyone tells me she's an amazing basketball player, she's an amazing volleyball player, she got a 33 on her ACT, where does that take you? Anywhere you want."