Posted On: 02/22/18 6:46 PM

LINCOLN – After spending most of President’s Day weekend dissecting her opponents on the volleyball court for Nebraska Elite 16 Vici, Atley Carey found herself on the opposite side of the knife by the end of Monday.

Carey, a 6’2 sophomore MB from Lincoln East, has become a dominant force at the net this season for Elite 16 Vici and she helped lead them into the championship bracket of the 16 Open division with a win over JPVC in an 8 a.m. match on Monday.

After that match, however, Carey left the tournament and headed to the Lincoln Orthopedic Center to undergo a scheduled foot surgery at 1 p.m.

“Monday was very weird knowing that I could play in our first match and then a few hours later would be getting cut into and be out for a few weeks,” Carey said. “It also was weird to not be able to eat or drink before, during or after the match. There were times during the game that I wanted to just chug a whole water bottle but had to refrain myself from doing so.

“I was so excited for my team to be playing in the (championship bracket) and I wanted to be there with them and playing with them, so I was really sad that I couldn’t finish out the tournament.”

While Carey’s teammates went on to finish second in the tournament, Carey was having one of her sesamoid bones removed from her right foot. The sesamoid bone is a pea-sized bone on the ball of your foot. Carey has become something of a sesamoid bone expert, as she had the same issue with her left foot last year that forced her to miss significant time before having the same surgery. In Carey, the bones didn’t develop exactly where they should have, which caused her pain in her day-to-day life, let alone from playing volleyball.

The main issue last year, Carey said, was getting it properly diagnosed in her right foot. After six-months of boots, orthopedic inserts and the like, Carey had the surgery and then was back in action about four weeks later. She said she hopes for a similar recovery time this year.

One of the biggest differences this year for Carey, though, is that has a sophomore she’s in the heart of perhaps her prime recruiting time. She also happened to be playing the best volleyball of her career the past 6-8 weeks.

“I am very frustrated that this happened at the time it happened because I was playing so well and have been improving my play,” Carey said. “But, I just keep telling myself this is better for the long run. It may suck now, but even a month from now it’ll be so much better.”

Carey’s play in the past couple months has gotten her recruiting attention from the likes of South Dakota, TCU, Xavier, Northern Colorado and Wichita State. Once healthy, she is hoping to get even better and continue to expand her college options.

“I feel like I’ve been playing a lot smarter recently and that I’ve been hitting the ball harder than I was during the high school season and just getting faster at everything,” Carey said. “With having my foot issue fixed, I’m confident I can only go up from here by getting faster and stronger.”

Her teammates and coach – Nebraska Elite club director Tony Carrow – have helped her get right back into the volleyball state of mind. On Wednesday, about 48 hours after her surgery, her coaches and teammates drove to Lincoln from Omaha to surprise her and to breakdown film from the weekend at her house.

“Having my teammates come down all the way from Omaha made my night (Wednesday) night, honestly,” Carey said. “I was so surprised and it’s a great feeling to have all the support from my teammates and coaches and showing that they really care. I’m so thankful to be on this team and how we all get along.”