CEDAR RAPIDS — Alexa Aldrich-Ingram has rediscovered her passion for volleyball.
The 2017 Iowa City High graduate originally signed to play at Drake out of high school, but a midseason position change eliminated her playing time. She transferred to the University of Iowa after one semester and realized she missed the routine of having the game in her life.
The 5-foot-8 sophomore right-side hitter has found both at Kirkwood.
“Coming to Kirkwood I had the motivation and the drive,” Aldrich-Ingram said after posting a team-high 22 kills for the NJCAA Division II eighth-ranked Eagles, who lost for the first time in 10 matches Wednesday night, 25-22, 20-25, 13-25, 25-18, 15-8, to No. 15 Hawkeye Community College in an Iowa Community College Athletic Conference match at Johnson Hall. “I didn’t hit at Drake and I love hitting. I’m going to come do what I’m told to do and make an impact.”
Aldrich-Ingram was a two-time selection to the Class 5A all-state second team with the Little Hawks, and was also named to the Mississippi Valley Conference first team three times. As a sophomore, Aldrich-Ingram was the MVC Athlete of the Year and helped Iowa City High reach the state tournament. She started her Drake career as a setter, then switched to hitter but could not crack the lineup. Her transfer to Iowa placed her volleyball future in jeopardy.
“I just really missed it,” Aldrich-Ingram said.
Unsure of her options, she found direction during a conversation with her mother, Jennifer Ingram, who hails from the same hometown of Oelwein as longtime Kirkwood Coach Jill Williams. After a couple of emails, Aldrich-Ingram decided to attend a Kirkwood volleyball open gym.
“Jill threw me in,” Aldrich-Ingram said with a laugh. “I think a week later she said, ‘So, are you going to do this?’ I just said, ‘Yeah.’”
The impact has been immediate. With 315 kills this season, Aldrich-Ingram leads the conference and ranks fifth nationally in NJCAA Division II.
“She’s a dynamic athlete,” Williams said. “She’s a six-rotation kid. She can do a little bit of everything. She’s dynamic, she’s crafty. She makes things happen. She can excite the crowd.”
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Kirkwood (19-4, 3-2 ICCAC) missed the NJCAA Division-II national tournament last season after a pair of seventh-place national finishes in 2015 and 2016. With Aldrich-Ingram and fellow sophomores Haleigh Durnin (middle blocker), Lauren Keane (setter), Maddie Lavenz (libero) and Abbi Tunis (middle hitter), the athleticism and balance are in place for a potential postseason surge.
“They’ve got to believe in themselves and they’ve got to have the confidence,” Williams said. “It’s something you work on day in and day out.”
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