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Versatile McLeod will bring her volleyball skills to Lady Lancers

Posted: April 20, 2017 11:50 a.m.
Updated: April 21, 2017 1:00 a.m.
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CAMDEN’S ALEXIS MCLEOD SIGNED a National Letter of Intent to continue her academic and volleyball endeavors at USC-Lancaster while flanked by her parents, Shannon and Tommy Blackwell. Also seated are her younger brother, Brent Blackwell, and her younger sister, Sara Blackwell. Shown standing, from left, are Camden High athletic director Jimmy Neal, CHS assistant volleyball coach Tristany Horton, CHS head volleyball coach Paige Wilson, CHS assistant volleyball coach Abby Spitzer and CHS principal Dan Matthews.

If ever a young lady can live up to the Boy Scout’s motto of being prepared, it is Alexis McLeod.

During her volleyball career at Camden High School, McLeod was asked to play a variety of roles by head coach Paige Wilson. And, never did she question where she would line up on the floor in giving Wilson and her teammates the desired results each time.

That adaptable spirit is a valuable commodity at the collegiate level, so it was no surprise that when the USC-Lancaster volleyball staff was searching for someone who could be plugged into any spot on the court they came calling on McLeod.

After she and her family took a visit to the USC-Lancaster campus, McLeod was hooked. Then last week the Camden High senior made it official by signing her National Letter of Intent with the Lady Lancers.

“It was more of a spur of the moment thing,” McLeod said of her recruitment process. “I got a letter in the mail and I really didn’t know if it was a mass-mailing thing or, if they really wanted me to play. We went and visited the campus and I really loved it. It felt like home. It was very personal. I just really enjoyed it.”

During her Lady Bulldog career, McLeod’s position was officially listed as outside hitter. That hardly tells the story of what she was asked to do in matches, as well as in practice.

“Alexis is really a versatile player,” Wilson said of the first player from her 2016 AAA Upper State championship squad to sign with a college program. “She played almost every position on the floor for us but her strength is probably outside or, right side hitter. 

“She set some for us, too, so I think the options for her are varied which is good for her and will be good for USC-Lancaster.”

It was at Wilson’s urging that McLeod started playing volleyball in the second grade after the Lady Bulldog head coach invited her to attend a club volleyball camp. McLeod took the bait and was quickly hooked on the sport which, she admitted, was not all peaches and cream for a young player.

“I just fell in love with it,” McLeod said before breaking into a laugh. “It was always frustrating, though. I knew I could do it but it was kind of hard sometimes but I got through it. I just knew that I could do it … it was just something that I loved.”

Things have changed for the better for McLeod from the first time she picked up a volleyball. While some might say she is a player without a true position, her take on her situation is that she can and will play wherever she is needed.

“I really don’t know where I am going to play,” she said of her role at USC-Lancaster. “I’m going to keep my options open. I can set and hit. I can, pretty much, do anything. 

“It’s definitely going to be a more fast-paced game (in college) and I might not play (the position) that I always want to play so I’m going to have to be open to that and just be ready.”

McLeod said one area which she is working to improve in order to become a strong all-around player is her back row defense. “I’ve always struggled with that,” she said. “Now, I have to work harder on that.”

Wilson said all McLeod needs to do to become a major contributor at USC-Lancaster is to get more touches and report to pre-season camp in the best possible shape in order to go against players who already have a year of college volleyball playing experience under their belt.

“The game will elevate to a higher level for her but I think Alexis is ready for that,” Wilson said. “She just loves the game and I think that she will thrive at the next level. I think that will be good for her and for USC-Lancaster.”

Minutes after her signing ceremony which was held inside the CHS library, McLeod said this opportunity was one which she was unsure would ever come her way. “It just came out of nowhere and I was like, ‘OK, let’s try it,’” she said. “I’m just going to enjoy it and go with the flow.”’

Wilson said Alexis McLeod has the perfect temperament, skills and love for the game of volleyball to be successful at the next level. That, she said, is a winning recipe for someone preparing to take the next step in her academic and athletic endeavors.

“Alexis is just an awesome young lady. I’ve watched her grow as a player and as a person since she was in elementary school,” Wilson said. “She did a lot for our program. She loves the game and works very hard. I’m just very excited that she’s going to have the opportunity to continue playing volleyball at USC-Lancaster.”

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