Lexi Vos, a 2018 Hutchinson graduate and former volleyball player, wrapped up her collegiate career this fall with a season most players can only hope to achieve. It started with a desire to be more competitive, and it ended earlier this month with a trip to the National Junior College Athletic Association Division III National Tournament.
Vos started her collegiate volleyball career at Ridgewater College in Willmar. She had fun that season but was looking for a step up in competition. She had played against the Central Lakes College Raiders of Brainerd and was impressed, so she decided to reach out.
“I contacted the coach in the summer right before the (preseason) was about to start,” Vos said. “It was kind of a last-minute decision because I knew I really wanted to be more competitive this year. I met with (coach Jane Peterson) and the whole team, and it just seemed like a really good fit.”
Joining a new team with teammates you’ve never met before can be difficult, but Vos said the Raiders made her feel right at home, and Peterson said she did a good job of fitting in with the other women.
“Honestly, all the girls were super nice,” Vos said. “I got along with everybody really fast. They were very welcoming. It was a great team, one of the best teams that I’ve been on with my teammates.”
“Lexi has a great team-first attitude,” Peterson said. “Her teammates like to play with her and she was willing to contribute in any way she could.”
Of course jumping on to a new team also means making adjustments and finding your role, and Vos did plenty of adjusting. Although she has played middle hitter most of her career, with the Raiders she was asked to learn several new positions and be flexible about how she contributed.
“Her versatility was a key to our improvement and ability to adjust in certain situations,” Peterson said about Vos. “She played right side hitter, middle hitter, outside hitter, and was a serving specialist at different times throughout our season.”
“I accepted the role the team needed,” Vos said.
Although it was difficult to learn new positions, Vos enjoyed the challenge and felt it made her a stronger player overall.
“A middle hitter has a more quick approach and more straight on,” Vos said. “As an outside hitter I learned I had to come in at more of an angle and wait longer, so that was hard to figure out.
“It was kind of hard because I didn’t get to focus on the one position I’ve always known and had a lot of experience in, but it was a lot of fun to learn a new position. I really liked playing outside, because you get to hit the ball as hard as you can and it’s really fun.”
The fun she was having on the court showed through in her results. Vos played in 33 of the team’s 35 matches, compiling 101 kills for fifth on the team. She also added 26 blocks, 34 digs and 11 serving aces.
“What shouldn't be overlooked is her contributions in practice every day,” Peterson said, “which don't get her stats or glory, but were essential to helping us be our best.”
In the regular season, the Raiders were first in the Minnesota College Athletic Conference Northern Division standings with a 12-2 record. They went on to win the NJCAA Division III Region 13B Championship and qualify for the national tournament, where they went 3-1 to take fifth in the country. The team finished with a 21-14 overall record.
Vos was looking for better competition and found it with Central Lakes at nationals.
“It was crazy. I loved even watching it when we were cheering on Rochester, that was very fun,” Vos said about nationals. “At first there were a lot of nerves, but then after awhile you got used to it and ignored it, and we played the way we knew how to play.”
Vos even saved her best for last, scoring nine kills to tie her season best in a game at nationals against Jefferson Community College.
Now that the ride is over, Vos plans to complete her education at CLC and graduate this spring. Although she’ll miss the thrill of competition, she’s satisfied with how she finished her career.
“I would really like to continue my volleyball career, but I’m going to nursing school and I don’t think it would really work out,” Vos said. “I’ve just accepted that was my last year. It was really hard the last game. It just became really clear it was my last game and I got really sad, but I had a good run. It was fun.”