If you believe in national recognition, Lexi Sun could be the next big college-volleyball thing. The 6-foot-2 outside hitter, who touches 10-9, has received numerous national accolades, including being the Lucky Dog/VolleyballMag.com Player of the Year.
Sun, bound for the University of Texas this week, was born and raised in Encinitas, Calif., a suburb of San Diego. She has gone to the Santa Fe Christian school in Solana Beach all her life, from kindergarten through 12th grade. This year she led the Eagles (32-8) to the semifinals of the state tournament, where they lost to Santa Margarita Catholic of Rancho Santa Margarita.
Sun, also the Gatorade Player of the Year and All-USA Player of the Year, has a vivacious and outgoing personality. If she’s not playing or training for volleyball, she gravitates to social activities such as going to the beach, shopping, or movies with friends. She’s very close to her family and enjoys having dinner with her sister and brother-in-law, who also live in San Diego.
VBM caught up with Sun in the middle of a whirlwind week, in between her senior trip, her last club tournament with Coast volleyball, and before heading off to Austin and becoming a Longhorn:
VBM: How was your senior trip?
Sun: We went to Knott’s Berry Farm, Disneyland and the beach. It was a three-day trip, and we spent the nights up in the Disneyland area. Our class took a big bus up there and it was super fun.
Our club team is going to the JVA tournament up in Long Beach, it’s a three day tournament and I’m leaving the following day at 7:30 in the morning for Austin. I’m packing right now.
(Note: After the first two days, her club team, Coast 18-1, moved into Monday’s gold bracket of the JVA West Coast Cup).
VBM: You had a lot of top NCAA programs knocking on your door. Tell us about your decision process.
Sun: It was for sure a long process. My family and my coaches helped me to understand about each school and program very well. I got to know the coaches, the teams and how the program works.
Overall, Texas was the best fit for me. I love Austin, it’s a fun city, it’s the closest thing to a California city. There’s a lot going on, I love their coaching staff. From what I know of Jerritt (Elliott) so far, he’s a great coach, and the girls love him. That was definitely a huge part of it for me. I was able to meet and stay with the girls on the team and they’re very like-minded and hard working. Overall, it was just the best fit for me. I’m excited to get started.
VBM: What were the top three schools that you considered?
Sun: I don’t know if I can narrow it down to three. USC was up there, Penn State was up there, Washington, UCLA, Stanford, Nebraska, all of those schools.
VBM: Was the quality of Texas’ recruiting class one of the factors in your decision?
Sun: For sure, yes. All three of the other girls (middle blocker Brionne Butler, setter Ashey Shook, and libero Olivia Zelon) had already committed before I did, so I was the last person to commit in my class.
Seeing the other girls coming in my recruiting class was a huge part in my decision. I had previously played with them on some of my teams with a couple of them and had relationships with them from earlier, so knowing them, the people and the players that they are, was one of the deciding factors.
VBM: Did any personal friendships with Texas players influence your college decision? Are you close to anyone of the Texas squad?
Sun: As of right now, I know the incoming freshmen the best. I’ve played previously with Bri and Ashley for USA competitions, I’ve played a lot against Olivia when she played at Long Beach, so I know those girls the best. They’re super-fun to play with and I get along with them well. Those are the girls that I’m excited to play for and obviously the other veterans as well. Cat McCoy showed me around the campus and I’m excited to get there and be a part of the team.
VBM: What do you plan to study at Texas?
Sun: I’m going in undecided, but I’m very interested in the business school that they have in Austin. My dad is into business, my dad and I are very similar, I would consider management or maybe even coaching.
If everything goes well, I would like to play more volleyball after college, and keep that going.
VBM: You’re not early spring-semester enrollee, but are going early to start summer school.
Sun: I’m going for a six-week summer session, I’ll be working out and training in open gym with the girls and the trainers for those six weeks, and then I’ll have a two-week break, come home and go back in early August to start the season.
VBM: You certainly received your share of recognition this year. How does it feel to have your hard work recognized?
Sun: It’s definitely an honor to receive that kind of recognition. It’s very humbling, but it’s also very challenging because now there’s a big target on my back because of all the awards. Just to know that everyone is looking to me, it just gives me so much more incentive to work hard and get better. I have so much more to work on now, and the job is not finished, so I am more motivated to keep getting better every day and work on my game.
VBM: You spend a fair amount of time at the beach. Do you play beach volleyball? Do you have any interest in playing competitive beach?
Sun: I do play beach a little bit, I mostly play indoor, I play beach just for fun with my friends. I like indoor better, but beach is also fun. I played in a couple of tournaments a few years back, but nothing too crazy.
You never know. I like beach, beach is a very different game, so right now I’m just trying to focus on indoor. We might be playing some beach when I get there in Texas with my college team. You never know what the future holds. Right now I don’t have any beach plans.
VBM: What is your leadership style? Are you a lead-by-example type of player, or are you more vocal?
Sun: I’m a very outgoing player, so I’m more of a vocal leader. I think that by encouraging each girl and giving each girl confidence, and understanding how each girl responds to feedback, is very important. Getting to know your teammates is critical to being a good leader. Listening is important, and knowing what helps them best, and what I can do to help them, so they can play at their best.
VBM: Going to Texas will be quite a change. What will you miss about California and San Diego?
Sun: I’ll miss my family, I’ll miss the beach, which is a given, the weather is beautiful — you can’t beat San Diego — and all of my friends and the relationships that I’ve made.