Student graduates early, pursues college volleyball

Robert Sullivan, Reporter

This coming January, as the LT community braces for another Chicago winter, volleyball star and college commit Grace Asleson ‘20 will board a plane headed to Deland, Fla. There, she will spend her spring practicing with Stetson University’s girls’ volleyball team.

“I am really looking forward to this transition,” Asleson said. “Right away, after the first call, I loved the coach and after visiting I really liked the small town, everybody-knows-each-other feel to the campus.”

Although she is graduating a semester early, Asleson is still playing for LT. She plays as the setter in the new 5-1 formation, meaning she is the only setter on the court and responsible for building up offensive scoring opportunities for the team, she said. 

Last season, Grace combiled 225 assists throughout the 28 matches she played in. These high quality performances earned her respect from her teammates as they named her a captain of this year’s team. This decision was soundly approved by second year varsity head coach, Jill Keeve.  

“I would say the biggest thing that makes Grace stand out would be her calm swagger,” Keeve said. “She remains cool and collected under pressure which not only benefits her play but helps the team also.”

Asleson is looking to build off the Regional championship LT won last year, she said. She will be co-captaining the team with Patti Cesarini ‘20, another division one bound athlete committed to Oakland University in Rochester, Mich. 

“Volleyball has really brought us together,” Cesarini said. “When Grace leaves, I’ll miss her bubbly personality the most. She is always so happy and light-hearted and knows how to cheer people up.” 

The girls are not only LT teammates, they also play on the same club, 1st Alliance/Lions Junior. Asleson began playing for them in second grade and has attributed her success in the sport mainly to the competition she faces at that level, she said. 

“Grace has shown steady growth and improvement since starting in our youth program,” 25-year club director Susan Keck said. “She is a dedicated teammate and leader and has always earned a very big role on every team she has been on.”

This past year, Asleson was again the 5-1 setter on her club team and led her team to a fifth place finish in the club division at nationals. She even made the all-tournament team which she said had been a goal of hers going into the weekend of games.

“Losing the last game [of the tournament] was kind of sad,” Asleson said. “If we would’ve won that game then we could’ve gotten at least third place. And I know that we all wanted medals, so that stunk. But if you look at it from an overall perspective we had a great tournament and only lost that one game.” 

Since 1999, 1st Alliance has had more than 416 athletes go on to play volleyball in college, 265 of those division one. And although statistics favor this club as a gateway to college ball, Asleson knows the transition will not be seamless.

“There is definitely a much higher speed of play at the college level,” Asleson said. “I hope the spring, or offseason, will better prepare me for the fall and I look forward to getting to know my teammates, too.”

Catch Grace before she leaves either tonight at the Mother McAuley High School Invitational tournament or at their next home game on Oct. 8 in the NC fieldhouse when the girls square off against York High School.