Over the course of her high school career, Lexi Smith has proven to be an exceptional talent that has done nothing but excel in every facet as a student-athlete.
Athletically, the 6-0 multi-sport standout has been named as a All-Ohio honoree in the basketball and volleyball realms. Academically, Smith is a model student, as her National Honor Society accolades suggest.
So it comes as no surprise to see the talented youngster getting her senior season off to a fast start with the success that she put together on the volleyball court in 2017 — a campaign that truly puts Smith as the Queen of Spike in Scioto County.
498 kills. A .470 attack percentage. 302 digs. 91 blocks. 76 aces. All fantastic numbers — and all team highs — for the senior outside hitter that took home her third consecutive Division IV, District 14 Player of the Year award late last month.
But to three of the people that know Smith best — Lexi’s parents, Joe and Lisa, along with Notre Dame head coach Kelsey Glockner — the success comes as no surprise to them, especially when one sees how hard Lexi works during practices and games.
“It’s great,” Glockner said of Lexi’s work ethic. “It’s one thing to be talented, but when you combine that talent with an outstanding work ethic, you get a truly special player. That’s one of my favorite things about Lexi. She’s never ridden her natural talents. She brings a lot to the volleyball court and gets it done for the team.”
And off of the field, Smith is equally as dedicated to pretty much everything she chooses to do.
“She’s the same person. Now, it’s not like she works hard at cleaning her room or anything,” Lisa said with a coy smile. “That doesn’t carry over. But it does carry over in every other area. When she was in sixth grade, she started playing club volleyball. When she started track, we’d drive an hour and a half from track practice to volleyball practice on a regular basis. However, she never complained.”
The elder male figure in the family — who originally hailed from the Toledo area — is certainly a well-respected athletic figure among area circles. Joe, in fact, scored an incredible 58 points against Wilmington College back on January 27, 1990 as a member of the Shawnee State University basketball program — a record that still holds up to this day. During that contest, Smith drained an astonishing 15 three-pointers in 24 attempts, which showed the athletic prowess that the Swanton, Ohio native had in his own right.
But as he’s watched Lexi play over the years, Joe gets a joy in his heart that his old playing days can’t match.
“It’s been great to watch,” Joe said. “She has so much of Lisa and I in her. Me watching her is like watching Lisa grow up. It’s like seeing the stuff that you didn’t get to see.”
And with Smith’s abilities being at an off-the-charts type level, that latter point is certainly one that could very well turn into a reality.
Over her four-year varsity volleyball career, Smith never collected awards lower than First-Team All-SOC and First-Team All-District en route to obtaining the Division IV, District 14 Player of the Year award three times over the course of her career. Smith finished with 1,655 kills, a .477 attack percentage, 810 digs, 327 total blocks, and 227 aces to round out a stellar high school volleyball career.
“I knew that I was going to play and be a good asset to the team,” Lexi said. “I just always really enjoyed the game of volleyball.”
However, Smith’s success, as she knows and emphasizes, is far from an individualized standpoint.
The senior, who will also spend her winter hooping for J.D. McKenzie’s Lady Titans, finished her high school volleyball career with three consecutive SOC I Championships, three Division IV District Championships in four years, and a regional semifinal victory over Waterford in straight sets — the school’s first regional tournament victory ever in the sport of volleyball — last Thursday as Notre Dame completed their four-year run under Smith with a stellar 89-17 mark.
Any of the aforementioned success, especially one that he or she is primarily responsible for, can make a person big-headed.
But if success has done that to Smith, it is hard to tell. That was especially evident in arguably Smith’s finest performance in the Battle for Scioto County affair against Wheelersburg. During that contest, Smith notched an amazing 34 kills on a .409 attack percentage, 21 digs, and five blocks for the Lady Titans to will Notre Dame to a 3-1 victory after during the initial set to start the contest.
“I wouldn’t have been able to (have the game that I had against Wheelersburg) without the work of my passers,” Lexi said. “Cassie Schaefer did an excellent job all game long of putting the ball in the right places. You can’t get kills without great passing. I just kept working hard and looked for holes in the court to hit to.”
And according to Smith, it’s the improvement of Schaefer, Ali Smith, Taylor Schmidt, Katie Dettwiller, and Clara Hash, among others, who helped Notre Dame improve to the point where a regional tournament victory could become a reality.
“They all stepped up up and really improved,” Smith said. “I’m just proud of them for getting things done. Each of them accepted their roles, and that, more than anything, allowed us to become the team and the program that we’ve become over the course of the decade.”
Still, Lexi’s personal success and talent can’t be denied. That’s why Wheeling Jesuit University — a program that has went on an astounding 526-122 spurt over 16 seasons under the direction of head coach Christy Benner — ultimately came calling for Smith’s services. Benner, who was so impressed with Smith’s skills that the highly successful head coach made contact with Smith just 20 minutes after watching her film, has collected a national title (2015) and three NCAA Division II Elite Eight appearances in her career with the Cardinals.
“My Dad (Joe) was looking at Catholic colleges, ” Lexi said. “He sent the coaching staff (at Wheeling Jesuit) the links to my videos, and the coach (Christy Benner) texted me 20 minutes later, called me, and struck up a conversation together. I really like her. Then, after learning about the team and its history, it’s apparent that they are very good year-in and year-out, and that’s one of the things that I was looking for in a college. Plus, it’s kind of like Notre Dame in the sense that it’s really small, but also offers very good academic and athletic programs. It was homey.”
With her high school volleyball career at a close and her signing date set, the senior will get to focus on the roundball — a sport that Smith is also very good at as evidenced by her career averages of 11.8 points and 10.9 rebounds per contest on 50 percent shooting from the floor.
And just like all of her other adventures in the sports realm, the Smith family is looking forward to taking it all in.
“Athletically, she’s good at every sport that she’s participated in. It’s been a lot of fun for me, and hopefully, we’ll get to watch her in the years to come.”
Reach Kevin Colley at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930 OR on Twitter @KColleyPDT