COLUMBUS, Ohio – Before Lexi Sun traveled from her typically balmy hometown in Southern California to Columbus to compete in the Under Armour All-American Volleyball Match and Skills Competition, there was one important thing she had to address.
“I kept checking the forecast, and I could see that we were heading into really cold weather, so I had to borrow a jacket from my sister, because I don’t own one,” Sun said. “It was cool to see snow on the ground when we got here, because we don’t get weather like this in San Diego, but sadly it didn’t snow more while we were here.”Sun shook off that minor disappointment when she competed Friday at Nationwide Arena by leading Team West to a 25-16, 25-21, 25-16 victory over Team East.The 6-foot-2 senior outside hitter, who was named the American Family Insurance ALL-USA Player of the Year while playing for Santa Fe Christian (Solana Beach, Calif.) this fall, racked up nine kills, three aces, two digs and two assists to be named MVP of Team West.
Sun, who will play for the University of Texas next fall, also watched the Longhorns defeat Nebraska 3-0 in an NCAA Division I national semifinal Thursday in Columbus. Texas will face Stanford in the final Saturday at Nationwide Arena.
“Watching Texas play on this court, as a fan and future member of the team, was amazing,” Sun said. “Then, getting to play on the same floor the next night was pretty incredible. If Texas can win a national title here, that would make this a perfect weekend.”
Two other players ALL-USA first team players competed in the event in Paige Hammons and Madison Lilley.
Lilley of Blue Valley West (Stilwell, Kan.) had a match-high 20 assists and seven digs for Team West.
Hammons of Sacred Heart Academy (Louisville) had four kills and four digs for Team East.
Three players who were second-team ALL-USA also fared well in the competition in Gabby Curry, Sydney Hilley and Jazz Sweet.
Curry, of Buford (Ga.), had a match-high 14 digs and two assists for Team East.
Hilley, of Champlin Park (Minn.), had a team-high 12 assists, four kills and three digs for Team East.
The Team East players said they had a great time competing in the event, despite coming out on the losing end.
“We all knew there wasn’t much to gain from winning this match, so our focus was to have fun and show everyone what we’ve got,” Hilley said. “Setting to all of these great players was a lot of fun. But hitting was kind of scary because most of these girls are over 6-feet tall and they put up a big block.”Hilley also won the Best Setter Competition with 13 points. The 6-foot University of Wisconsin recruit successfully completed five back sets and three front sets in 30 seconds.“I practice these same sets a lot when I go to the gym by myself so I was comfortable doing the same thing in this competition,” Hilley said.Sweet of Shawnee Heights (Tecumseh, Kan.) had three kills and one block. The 6-3 University of Nebraska recruit also won the Best Hitter competition, by nailing four of five targets in the semifinal round and hitting three of five targets in the final.
“I hit the targets during our trial run, so I felt confident I could win this competition,” Sweet said. “We were pumped to get to compete in such a nice arena on TV. Winning this competition and helping my team win the match is the perfect way to end my high school career.”
Stephanie Samedy, of East Ridge (Clermont, Fla.), had six kills, three digs and two blocks to be named MVP of Team East.
Jamye Cox, of St. Ursula Academy (Toledo, Ohio), had a team-high 10 digs, five assists and an ace for Team West.
Cox, a Michigan State recruit who was named third-team ALL-USA in the fall, received the Gatorade Hustle Award.
“When I saw the Hustle Award for the first time, I looked at my teammates and said ‘I’m going to win that,’” Cox said. “I worked my butt off to win the award, but I try to play that same way every game.
“Winning was fun but the best thing was being around so many of the best players from all over the country and getting to know them. A lot of us will continue to see each other in college.”
At the end of the night, all 24 players who competed in the event walked out of the arena adorned in Under Armour clothing and with smiles on their faces.
“This whole thing was so much fun and Under Armour gave us so much cool gear,” Sweet said. “They gave us uniforms, sweats, jackets, shorts, sports bras, just about anything you can think of. They even gave us shoes that aren’t going to be sold to the public until next year!”