It’s been a wild year for Tremont senior volleyball player Emily Lane. 

Almost a year ago, the 5-foot-11 junior was preparing to wreak havoc on the Heart of Illinois Conference alongside now graduated 6-foot-3 middle hitter Lauren Hartman.

In her fourth match as a junior, Lane landed on a teammate’s foot and tore her left anterior cruciate ligament. Her season was over before it started.

The injury kept her from the basketball season, but she remained on the sideline of every game, acting similar to a student-coach.

By spring, Lane was back on the softball diamond for the Turks, contributing to a regional final appearance.

Despite the brace she sports on her left knee, the three-sport-athlete is hardly limping into the volleyball season.

Lane lost a season’s worth of playing time, but learned new methods of leadership from the bench.

“You got to see when the team got down on themselves and I wanted to help so bad,” Lane said. “All I could do was support them and talk to them. It was hard but I made the best of it.”

Her time on the sidelines provided her with a new outlook on the game. During games, Lane was able to see games from a coaches perspective. Head coach Amber Eve saw Lane look at the game differently and believes her senior will be a smarter player this season.

Lane echoes her coach’s statement. 

“It was a very different perspective on the sidelines. It was really hard not to be able to play,” Lane said. “You focus so much on skills, but there’s a big mental side to the game too. From the bench I got to strategize and visualize the plays. The game became clearer.”

After the graduation of Hartman, who now plays basketball at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, Lane will anchor the Tremont defense. Hartman set the bar high on offense with 5.0 kills per set, but Lane is ready to fill the void.

The middle hitter is gaining confidence in her knee by the day and Eve knows what to expect on defense out of a healthy Lane.

“She definitely will be as good as a blocker, if not better,” Eve said. “Offensively, she’s trying to get to (Hartmans’s) standard.”

The Turks intend to spread the ball around more on offense without Hartman. Lane, Stephanie Williams and Joelle Ulrich — all three sport athletes — bring senior leadership to Tremont. Juniors Leah Oswald and Allie Ramlo got strong varsity time last season and lead the Tremont junior class. Oswald replaced Lane and Ramlo was an outside hitter for the Turks (18-12,7-5) last season. 

Tremont picked up a signature win over Eureka last season in a non-conference game. This year, Eureka is in the Heart of Illinois Conference and Eve said her team is ready to play the Hornets again.

However, a win over Eureka won’t satisfy the Turks’ hunger.

“It’s a brand new team so they’re looking forward to the season. We’re running our offense and defense a little different, so they’re excited for it. They are hungry.”