Alexa Smith was all set to take a trip to the University of Minnesota. The Golden Gophers were one of a number of schools on her list of potential colleges pursuing her nationally known volleyball skills.
But on the way Smith stopped in West Lafayette, Ind. After an unofficial visit to Purdue University the Lewis-Palmer junior had no reason to go anywhere else.
Smith canceled her upcoming trip to Minnesota, and on Wednesday verbally committed to play volleyball for Purdue.
“I really enjoyed the players and the coaches,” Smith said Thursday night after L-P swept Falcon. “I felt I could relate to them well. I wanted to play in a good conference like the Big Ten.”
The Big Ten has three teams ranked in the top 10 as of the most recent NCAA rankings.
As a junior, Smith won’t be able to sign a national letter of intent until her senior season. But the last couple years she’s been drawing plenty of interest for her volleyball skills.
Over the summer, Smith joined the U.S. U18 national team for the 2013 FIVB U18 World Championships in Thailand. The U.S. took silver at the tournament.
Knowing she was being recruited, Smith starting taking unofficial trips around the country to check out some of the top schools.
“I was visiting some other schools this fall,” Smith said. “I went there (to Purdue) this past weekend and I just fell in love.”
Smith also visited Michigan, UCLA and Colorado State. She was on hand to see Colorado upset then-ranked No. 1 UCLA, which boasts former Lewis-Palmer teammate Claire Felix.
Smith leads the Rangers in kills (229), attacks (407) and digs (110). Her 229 kills is second in the state only to Doherty’s Haleigh Washington (318), who is verbally committed to the Big Ten’s Penn State.
As of Tuesday’s NCAA volleyball rankings, Purdue was ranked 42nd in the country, but 20th in the AVCA coaches poll.
Soon, Smith will bond with a new set of teammates and try to lift the Boilermakers to new heights.
“I hung out with them (the players), and they were all super nice,” she said. “They seemed really down to earth.”