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Junior Weiler utilizing her ability with both hands

September 29, 2010

For many athletes, mastering and perfecting their non-dominant hand is a luxury, not a necessity. For Carli Weiler, it was necessary if she wanted to extend her volleyball career from high school to the collegiate level.

In her third year on the MSU volleyball team (9-4, 1-1 Big Ten), the junior defensive specialist and libero began her volleyball career as a right-handed hitter, but was forced to switch hands when she was 14 years old after experiencing chronic pain and stiffness in her right arm.

“It was really, really painful, and it would just lock up, and I couldn’t move it at all,” Weiler said.

After undergoing surgery, which removed a significant amount of scar tissue, and participating in physical therapy, Weiler said her elbow still locked up, and her volleyball game was suffered.

However, she decided that this setback was not going to prevent her from playing, so she forced herself to learn to play left-handed.

Ample volleyball experience allowed Weiler to successfully make the transition from right-handed to left-handed playing.

“She’s pretty much been playing volleyball out of the womb, so she brings a great deal of experience and enthusiasm,” head coach Cathy George said. “She’s very quick and determined.”

Aside from volleyball, Weiler still uses her right hand for everything else.

This season, Weiler has recently returned to the court after sustaining an injury to her extensor carpi ulnaris tendon in her left wrist that left her unable to play.

She now plays with a cast on her left wrist and hand, which has forced her to return to her right-handed ways.

“I haven’t used my right arm to serve or hit in about eight years, so serving right now isn’t that big of an issue because I haven’t used it in so long,” Weiler said. “But if I consistently use it for probably the rest of the season, it might start to click or lock up.”

Because senior defensive specialist Allyson Karaba has been out with a shoulder injury, Weiler has been forced to take charge of MSU’s back row.

Weiler is so volleyball savvy and knowledgeable that she has been able to adjust to her unusual, ambidextrous circumstances, George said.

“We need her to step up in a leadership role,” George said. “We need her to captain the back court for us, especially with (Karaba) being gone. She really needs to direct the traffic back there and direct all the first contacts.”

With her recent return to the court, Weiler’s presence is noticeable, especially with the positive energy she gives off, junior outside hitter Jenilee Rathje said.

“She’ll run balls down that are halfway across the gym,” Rathje said. “She’s really loud and gives off a lot of good energy back there, and she adds a lot. Even if she’s one-handed, it’s good to have her back and playing with us.”

George has high expectations for Weiler for the rest of the Big Ten season. The Spartans’ next match is away against No. 4 Penn State at 7 p.m. on Friday.

“She lets herself just react and flow, (and) she just plays the game,” George said. “She’s very competitive, and she really can anticipate what’s happening out there.

“You really need somebody with a nose for the ball and an understanding of the game.”

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