DEWITT – After watching Lexi Nordmann at an open gym in the spring of 2012, Christy Thelen’s initial inkling that the eighth grader should start her high school career on varsity was confirmed by a text message from one of her players.
The incoming freshman’s outing that day caught the attention of the whole program, the DeWitt volleyball coach said.
“We were looking at her for junior varsity,” said Thelen, who has been at the helm of the Panthers’ volleyball program since the mid-2000s. “Abby Nakfoor (a former player) was playing middle across the way and Lexi hit like two (aces) across her body.
“Abby texted me afterward and said, ‘Coach, we need her on our team.’ She played really, really good.”
Nordmann had been playing high-level national club volleyball for just a few months. She played on a lower-level team in seventh grade before being moved up to Michigan Elite’s top national team that school year. That’s when she said her outlook changed.
Four years later, the 6-foot-1 middle hitter is considered one of the state’s best, and was named one of 10 finalists for Michigan Miss Volleyball last week.
“I really didn’t have that many goals for myself (going into high school) because I was so new to the sport,” said Nordmann, who is verbally committed to Division I Southern Methodist University. “I really had not been playing volleyball very long, at a high level, going into high school.
“Freshman year, playing varsity and playing on the (Michigan Elite) top national team, really opened my eyes. … I think that’s really when I found out that this is something I could be good at and I started to set goals for myself.”
The four-year varsity standout finished her junior season with 511 kills. Last year, in her team’s Class A regional final loss to Mattawan, Nordmann recorded 39 kills during the five-game match, which tied her for sixth on the state’s all-time list, according to the MHSAA record books. Her kill efficiency her junior year was .466, a stat Thelen said is “unbelievable.”
In 2014, Nordmann recorded 239 blocks and is third on the state’s all-time list.
“For a taller girl, she moves very well,” Thelen said. “That’s what makes her stand apart. She’s very coordinated.
“She’s also a perfectionist, so she wants to be the best at everything, which is awesome.”
Individually, the credentials are there for Nordmann, a second-team all-state selection a season ago, to potentially earn the prestigious honor at the end of the year. And she plans on adding a few more this season, too. However, she said she’s more focused on helping the No. 7-ranked Panthers find new ground, as the program hasn’t made it out of the regional tournament during Nordmann’s first three years.
Hoisting a state championship isn’t something everyone up for Miss Volleyball can accomplish.
“This will be my fourth year to be able to try and do something great,” said Nordmann, who helped DeWitt to a 44-4-1 record last season. “We have tons of returners from last year and we’re all hungry to see what we can do this season.
“We all had the experience last year of losing to Mattawan in the regional final game and I think that hit home with a lot of the girls.”
Contact James L. Edwards III at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @JLEdwardsIII.