By Jenna Perlman
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Freshman volleyball player Alex Holston is no stranger to success.
The right-side hitter from Olney, Md., played volleyball at Sherwood High School. Holston’s team won three consecutive state championships and didn’t drop a match for over two years.
In the Gators’ opening weekend of competition, Holston had a hitting efficiency of .436 in three matches, setting a record for the highest percentage by a UF freshman playing an opening weekend in the program's history.
You could say Holston is not just used to winning, she’s used to dominating.
“I get that from my mom,” she said
Holston’s mother died of breast cancer five years ago. She fought her illness so valiantly, Holston didn’t even realize her mother was sick.
“Now that I’m older, I realize that she could push through the pain and everything she had to go through,” Holston said. “So it’s definitely been put in me to be that way too.”
This weekend, Holston will definitely have to put up a fight.
She’s one of three true freshmen who will get their first taste of collegiate volleyball’s big stage at the Nike Big Four Classic, hosted by reigning national champion Texas on its campus at Austin. The Gators (4-0), who got a season-best nine kills from Holston in sweeping Texas-San Antonio Thursday night, will take on No. 2 Stanford (2-0) Saturday and No. 1 Penn State (3-0) on Sunday.
“I’m so excited,” Holston said. “This is definitely going to be some great competition and really fun matches.”
Holston was the Maryland’s Gatorade State Player of the Year in 2011 and 2012 and is the highest ranked Gator recruit since Kelly Murphy, the former UF All-American, 2007 Gatorade National Player of the Year and a player Holston has always looked up to.
At just over 6 feet tall, Holston doesn’t look up to many on the court and few will match her 6-feet-4 inch wingspan and the athleticism attached to it.
“Right now, the way she can produce points is not just with her offense but also with her blocking,” Florida coach Mary Wise said.
And that is exactly what she did last weekend.
In her UF debut, Holston recorded kills, blocks, played defense and generally showed she could do a little bit of everything; a lot of it superbly.
“She’s been unbelievable,” junior defensive specialist Holly Pole said. “Alex works so hard, and is such an asset to the team.”
As good as Holston has been, she still relies on her teammates and coaches to help her with the one aspect of her game she has yet to control: pre-game jitters.
She probably won’t solve them when taking the court against Stanford. Or Penn State.
Consider that part of a college learning curve, much of which she’s handled quite well so far.
“Knowing that you have everyone’s support definitely helps,” Holston said. “Everyone’s support turns my jitters into excitement.”
However, if pre-game jitters prove to be like any other aspect of Holston’s athletic career it’s only a matter of time until Holston dominates those as well.
Her mother would be proud.