VIRGINIA — Starting on the Virginia volleyball team since she was an eighth grader, junior middle hitter Lexiss Trygg had a great mentor to look up to in 2018 Virginia grad Lexi Ahrens.
Now, in her second year on the team without Ahrens, Trygg is becoming that mentor herself and has stepped into a key leadership role on the Blue Devils squad.
As a sophomore, she quickly became the team’s go-to offensive option and, since then, has became an all-court player that does just about everything asked of her.
“This year, it definitely feels like I have a bigger role on the team,” Ahrens said prior to their game Thursday with International Falls. “I do more and I know I have to do more for my team. I used to rely on Lexi and now I feel like I’m that Lexi to other people and I like it.”
Fully acclimated to her increased role on the team, Trygg says being a leader only pushes her to work harder.
“I know I have to work harder now, not only for myself, but for my teammates and my school and my family.”
Although she was on varsity as an eighth grader, Trygg says she looked up to Ahrens from an even younger age.
“She was my role model ever since I was little,” Trygg said. “I got to see her a lot since my sister was in the same grade as her and played with her and was friends with her so I’ve known her my whole volleyball career. I’ve always wanted to be as good of a player as she was if I could.”
It may seem like a no-brainer to model your game after such a successful player, but the real thing Trygg took away from Ahrens was her ability to play under pressure.
“She always seemed calm. You could see her shaking from adrenaline but she never got down on herself or nervous or super mad. She always stayed level and I strive to be like that.
“The way she plays, how she does things and how she reacts in certain situations was great to see. I could mimic her right then and there on the court.”
So far this season, Trygg has continued to show that she has earned the right to be the Devils’ No. 1 option. Hitting double digit kills in almost every full match this year, she hit for a season high 22 kills in a 3-0 win over Duluth Denfeld at the end of August and shows no signs of letting up.
Her coach, Crystal Nucech-Duesler, says the junior has proven able to step up when called upon.
“I think she’s done a nice job stepping up to being that go-to hitter ever since last year,” Nucech-Duesler said. “More teams are going to know to block her more and focus in on her this year and she knows she has to work even harder to get around that I think she’s done that so far.”
For being a middle hitter listed at six feet tall, her coach says Trygg does more than just sit in the middle and put down kills.
“She serve receives five out of the six rotations for us and does everything all over the court. She passes, she hits, she blocks. So she definitely has stepped up into that leadership role on the court and off the court for us.”
Growing up, Trygg’s first coach was her mom, who she says has only continued to help her in her high school career.
“She’s a big influence on me,” Trygg said. “She’ll come to all of my games and be there to help me when I need her. If I need to stay calm, I can give her a look in the stands.
“Even at home, we talk about the game and she’ll give me pointers like ‘you need to stay low,’ and she’ll break it down for me. She played volleyball in high school and college so I know she knows her stuff.”
Off the court, at practice and during games, Trygg says she focuses on how she can be a stronger leader for the younger girls on the team.
“It’s cool to be one of those leaders. I know I want to have a good impact on these girls. I know younger girls can sometimes be scared of those older girls but I want them to feel welcomed and I want them to know how great they can be if they work hard. I think that’s an important thing in our program.”
With the rest of her junior season as well as her entire senior season still in front of her, there are some things that Trygg excels at, but also some things she could improve upon, according to her coach.
“I’d like to see a lot more blocking out of her,” Nucech-Duesler said.”She gets a couple of blocks a game but she just has to work on closing the block a little more and focusing in on the setter and the players on the other side of the net. It would be great to see her get five or six blocks a match.
“But she is one of our best passers, hits well out of the middle and has a nice jump serve. There are a lot of things she does really well.”
Looking ahead to the rest of this season, Trygg wants to see her team build some more trust so they, ultimately, can make a deep run in the playoffs.
“I think as a team, we can come together better and trust each other on and off the court. If we do that we can play well on the court all the time. I think if we do that we can believe in ourselves and go farther than we think we can.”