City High senior Alexa Aldrich-Ingram
By Susan Harman
Your Prep Sports
IOWA CITY – Injuries, lack of depth and other issues kept the City High volleyball team from reaching its potential a year ago. After a 17-16 season the senior class that helped lead the team to the state tournament two years ago wants to get its mojo back.Senior outside hitter Alexa Aldrich-Ingram plans to be a big part of that resurgence.
As a sophomore she was named the Mississippi Valley Conference player of the year and was a second-team all-state selection. With her team struggling as a junior, she was first-team all-MVC and all-district and honorable mention all-state.
“She was still a very elite athlete, elite player for Class 5A last year,” Little Hawks coach Craig Pitcher said. “This senior class as sophomores was kind of the nucleus of that (state tournament) team. Injuries and other stuff that happened along the way last year.
“This year our depth by position is a little bit deeper. We didn’t have enough pieces to make a huge dent into opponents offensively. This year I think we have it. The senior class committed a lot this summer from open gym to leagues to other things. They rededicated themselves.”
Aldrich-Ingram has been a constant through the team ups and downs, and that fits with her on-court demeanor. Even as a freshman she didn’t get rattled in the biggest matches.
She is focused to the point that her parents have been asked by others whether she’s having any fun. But as she’s matured her even-keel disposition has been recognized for what it is: an asset.
“When they watch me play I’m just in the zone. I look mad I guess,” Aldrich-Ingram said. “I don’t even think about it. I’m focused, so they can’t tell how I feel. After points I get excited, but during a game I’m just there. I don’t think about anything else.”
Maybe we’ve all gotten used to seeing athletes with that kind of natural ability and flair take it a step too far into drama-queen territory. Not this girl.
At 5-foot-8 she is an undersized right-side hitter somewhat reminiscent of the great Michaela Nelson, a City High all-stater who plays for Northern Colorado. Nelson was a player that Aldrich-Ingram looked up to.
“She was really confident, and she knows she’s going to get the job done,” Aldrich-Ingram said. “I wanted to be like that. She was small, but she could put the ball down. And she went D-I, and that’s great, cool.”
Pitcher said the comparison is apt in terms of their ability to jump and finish, their knowledge of the game and their versatility.
Pitcher listed Aldrich-Ingram’s strong suits: “She jumps high, but it’s also a quick jump. The speed of her arm as she hits. It’s a boom-boom from her hand to the floor with the ball. It’s a fluid type of jump where you just watch her, and it’s jump, float and finally land. It’s her natural ability to do that. It just seems effortless for her to jump, to hit.”
She’s progressed by learning different types of shots as opponents try to shut her down. She’s now comfortable playing different positions.
Her father, Brian Ingram, said she’s supplemented her natural talent with more diligent weight training. She’s faster, stronger and smarter as a senior. And she’s ready.
“People expect me to get the job done, and I like that,” she said. “We have a lot of seniors, and we’re really tight. The chemistry is already really good. We have almost all the same people, and all of us are willing to play every position.”
The state tournament is the obvious goal but she sees her leadership as more than mere on-court performance.
“Obviously I want to go to state and lead the team to state and make everyone else better and more confident that they’re just as good as anyone else on the other team,” she said.