Abbie Magrini: Do research before surgery

By Walter Villa

Abbie Magrini has a message for players who get injured and need surgery: Do your research.

Magrini, a 5-foot-6 senior libero for Mahomet-Seymour (Mahomet, Ill.) who has yet to commit to a college, has had two major operations on her right knee. She said the first one did not go well, which caused her to become much more involved in the selection of her second surgeon.

“It’s my life, my knee and my future,” Magrini said, explaining why she took charge.

Magrini said she went so far as to interview patients in the waiting rooms of the doctors she was considering.

Her research led her to Dr. K. Donald Shelbourne, who is based in Indianapolis and is an orthopedic team physician for Purdue.

Magrini said Shelbourne took the patella tendon from her left knee and inserted it into her right knee.

After the surgery was complete, Magrini said her knee felt better immediately. That’s in stark contrast to the first surgery, when her knee never felt quite right.

“Since I had surgery on both knees, they felt balanced,” Magrini said. “My recovery was even. Both knees got stronger at the same time.”

Before getting hurt, Magrini was a rising star, setting a Champaign-area record with 611 digs in 2009, her sophomore year. But she tore her anterior cruciate ligament playing club ball for Prime Time when she collided with a teammate in the winter of 2010.

She came back after only seven months but injured her ACL again, almost immediately, causing her to miss her junior season of high school.

Now Magrini’s story appears headed for a happy ending. She had 342 digs as a senior -- her statistics were down only because her blockers were not allowing as many balls to get past them -- and played in a state all-star match featuring 36 of the best players in Illinois.

Magrini, who is interested in playing for Indiana University East, an NAIA school in Richmond, Ind., also has an academic major she’d liked to pursue.

“I want to study sports medicine,” Magrini said, “and one day work for Dr. Shelbourne.”

Final Four is set

The NCAA women’s volleyball Final Four is set, with UCLA, Southern Cal, Florida State and Illinois headed to San Antonio. Action begins Thursday.

Florida State, which will make its first Final Four appearance, is a big story, but so, too, are some of the teams that did not make it, including reigning four-time champ Penn State and top-seeded Texas.

Outside hitter Paulina Prieto of Palmer Trinity (Palmetto Bay, Fla.), who will join Penn State’s roster in January, said she was confident the Nittany Lions could win their fifth straight.

“I thought Coach (Russ) Rose would pull something out like always,” Prieto said. “But I guess this was a rebuilding year.

“Maybe this will be a wake-up call for us as players. It just shows that even when you have four national titles in your back pocket, you can’t chill. You have to keep working.”

Star watch

Outside hitter Maya McClendon, a 6-0 junior at DuPont Manual (Louisville, Ky.), is a player to watch this club season. She is the younger sister of Penn State star Deja McClendon and plays for the KIVA club team.

Ron Kordes, who coaches KIVA’s 14-U team, said McClendon’s 17-U club should be the organization’s strongest this season.

Deja McClendon, by the way, made All-Big Ten first team last month after being named National Freshman of the Year the previous season.