Alma's Alyssa Hoyle thrives with challenges.

A quick glance at Alyssa Hoyle’s heavy academic schedule tells you all you need to know about the Alma senior.

She’s not the type to take the easy road.

When she tore her labrum in her shoulder in a freakish accident last basketball season, Hoyle wasn’t about to walk away from athletics. Especially volleyball.

Hoyle and the Airedalettes volleyball team face Nettleton on Tuesday in the first round of the 5A state volleyball tournament.

A natural right-handed hitter in volleyball, Hoyle was encouraged to retire from volleyball. Some players might have, too, given Alma’s tough two-year hardship in the 7A/6A-Central.

Quit volleyball? You don’t know Alyssa Hoyle.

“I’ve always loved volleyball; I didn’t want to just quit my senior year, the last year I could play,” Hoyle said. “It was worth it to learn how to hit with my left hand. And my team kind of needed it, because there’s not a whole lot of people.”

“But I’m able to get to it.”

Hoyle’s injury appeared to be innocent at first. Alma trainer Patti Webb told her if she kept hurting to see a doctor.

“I went up for a rebound and it popped up out of place,” Hoyle said. “It popped right back in, but when it did that, it messed it (shoulder) up and tore my labrum. I didn’t really think anything about it. I told Patti, and she told me to watch it too see if it gets better.”

When it didn’t, Hoyle went to the doctor. His words weren’t encouraging.

“They didn’t think (volleyball) was a good idea,” Hoyle said. “But once I told them I’m hitting my left hand, they said if it doesn’t hurt you bad enough then you can still do it.”

Learning to write left handed is one thing. Swinging at a moving object is another.

“It wasn’t pretty at first,” Hoyle said. “I could barely even walk, trying to hit the ball left handed. I just kept doing it in practice and it eventually got better.”

Hoyle isn’t necessarily the only volleyball player walking the halls at Alma High School. Seniors Jordyn Collyar, Abbye Ostrander, Emme Folkerts, Scout Simpson and Allie Freeman all had their moments this fall, as did juniors Rae Smith and Bailey Hoffsommer and sophomore Josie Meinarus.

Then there’s Hoyle, bad wing and all.

“I thought I would be awkward with my left hand the entire season,” she said. “It’s still kind of difficult. If it’s a weird set (pass), I’m like, ‘Oh no’

“But I’m able to get to it.”

The Airedalettes’ return to postseason won’t make waves of headlines across the state. But for Hoyle, it’s big news.

“It’s a huge deal,” she said. “Last year, I think we won two games, and this year we’re in the state tournament. Whenever we have a bad game, it’s whenever we’re not communicating. Sometimes, we kind of feel sorry for ourselves, and that’s when we start playing like crap.

“But if we play like a team and communicate, we play better.”

Hoyle doesn’t expect her right shoulder to be affected too much when she returns to basketball.

“It hurts, but it doesn’t hurt so bad that I can’t shoot,” she said. “If I’m playing defense and I go up, it might hurt. But at this point it’s not a big deal.”