When outside hitter Alexis Hart is not enjoying ribs and sausage from Big T’s Barbeque back home in Kansas City, Missouri, she is spending her time as a dominant hitter for the Gophers volleyball team.
Last season as a sophomore, Hart was named an AVCA Third-Team All-American. One could assume she would set a personal goal to become an All-American for the second straight year, but for her this is just not the case.
“I didn’t really see it as I’m an All-American, so I just want to be one again,” Hart said. “It’s more of just how can I be the best version of myself at the end of the season.”
This past Saturday against Michigan State, Hart surpassed the 1,000 kill mark for her career. Such an achievement has not been accomplished by a junior since Daly Santana in 2014.
Hart had no idea she had accomplished the feat until a member of the Gophers' Athletics communication staff told her. “I didn’t know until she told me and I was just like 'Oh, OK, sweet,'” Hart said. She added that it reminds her of how blessed she is with the opportunity she has and how great of environment she plays in.
“She brings a lot of heat, she hits it hard and jumps high,” head coach Hugh McCutcheon said. He added that her range has improved throughout her time at the University.
Outside of the 1,000-kill achievement, Hart has been one of the most consistent players for the Gophers, as she’s second on the team with 197 kills in this season alone. She’s had at least 10 kills in 12 matches to this point as well.
She credits her consistency to her adding more range to her hits, and to her setter Samantha Seliger-Swenson.
“I’m really trying to make sure I have more range and not just stuck to one shot,” Hart said. “Also, I get a lot of one-on-one [play] because Sam has the middle blocker and they hold pretty well, so that’s also helping my success too.”
Although most spectators just see her powerful kills and electric energy that she brings to the team after each point, former libero Dalianliz Rosado said Hart’s humor helps.
“Lexi’s funny … she’s a funny girl. Her humor makes us laugh. But also as a volleyball player, she works hard every day,” Rosado said.
Hart acknowledged her greatest skill is making her teammates and everyone she encounters smile.
“I try to keep a smile on everyone’s face,” Hart said. “Even when we’re down by a lot, I just try and find the positive out of everything and bring a smile to everyone.”
Although the season is more than halfway through, Hart still has big time goals for herself and her team.
“I just want to continue to get better every day and become the best version of me for this team that I can,” Hart said. “Team-wise, we obviously have a goal of winning the Big 10 and national championship, so just to have that goal in mind and hopefully achieve it.”