Law's Alexis Neider to play volleyball at Central

Law volleyball standout Alexis Neider is joined my parents John and Kelly when she signed to play for Central Connecticut State University in the Division I Northeast Conference.

Law volleyball standout Alexis Neider is joined my parents John and Kelly when she signed to play for Central Connecticut State University in the Division I Northeast Conference.

Law Athletics / Contributed photo

Alexis Neider knew she would have to make sacrifices to reach the level she sought by playing volleyball at Jonathan Law. A two-time All-State selection for head coach Stacy Loch as a hitter, Neider gave up basketball and did double duty during softball season to hone her game.

This dedication helped Neider gain a position at Central Connecticut State University.

“We are looking forward to having her join our program,” Central head women’s volleyball coach Linda Sagnelli said. “She is an All-State player who has the ability to provide depth at several positions. She comes from a family of Central grads (both her mom and uncle) and we are happy that she is carrying on that tradition.”

Neider verbally committed to CCSU on Oct. 7 and signed her National Letter of Intent to play for the Blue Devils in the Division I Northeast Conference the first week of November.

“Coach Sagnelli explained the values of the team and it lined up with everything I was looking for in a school. I’m majoring in psychology and that is one of their top majors so that solidified it for me,” said Neider, who hasn’t met with her new teammates but has contacted new recruits on social media. “I’ve been texting with them and speaking with them. It is interesting to speak with girls from all over the country (Wisconsin, Arizona) and what they are doing (COVID 19-wise) in their states.”

In 2019 the Blue Devils won 15 matches and qualified for the NEC Tournament. In the semifinals of the conference championship, the fourth-seeded Blue Devils upended top-seeded Robert Morris in five sets to advance to the championship match for the second time in three seasons.

“We will look to develop Alexis’ skills in the outside and defensive specialist positions,” said Sagnelli, who has had at least one student-athlete earn All-NEC honors in each of her 20 seasons. “In addition, she’s a great student who will fit in immediately with our team that has achieved the AVCA National academic award (3.3 team grade point average needed) for 13 years in a row.”

Neider hasn’t taken her opportunity lightly.

“I know I already committed but it is important for me to keep my grades up,” Neider said. “I’m taking an AP psychology course now and everything about the field fascinates me.”

Law head coach Stacy Loch saw Neider as a go-to player.

“Alex has had a big impact on our team over the last few years. She was twice All-State and twice All-SCC. I am excited to see her go to the next level in volleyball, where she will continue to improve and become a stronger athlete on the court,” Loch said.

Neider and classmate Maddie Lula were brought up to play varsity as sophomores.

“That was exciting for both of us,” Neider said. “That is when I realized how much volleyball means to me. I met some of the greatest people in my life through volleyball at Law. Because of how strong our team bond is, I now have friends for life. It is such a big part of my life. It has instilled so many values in me.”

For Neider, the move to varsity was at first daunting.

“It was very intimidating as a sophomore. I had only really began playing (junior varsity) as a freshman. I didn’t want to let my teammates down, and those seniors did their best to understand the mistakes I made,” Neider said. “Once I understood the style of coaching and playing with the older players it was so much fun.”

As a senior, Neider was asked again to show her dedication to the sport when she moved to outside hitter to balance out play at the net.

“My sophomore and junior year I was a middle but this year Coach Loch moved me to the outside,” Neider said. “That was difficult for me. In the middle I was used to the sharp angles (of hitting) and tipping. Outside I had such a larger view of the court and could come in at any angle I wanted. I had to re-train my brain. I remember the first couple practices being so frustrated because I couldn’t figure it out.”

As a middle, Neider would come out for a defensive specialist. This year she had to take her spot in the back row.

“I was on the court the entire time, passing and digging. In one game against Foran, their outside hitter would beat me to the same spot every time. I told myself I would get there and I finally made the pass and I was so excited,” Neider said.

Those baby steps of improvement helped Law to a 9-3 regular season record and a berth in the Southern Connecticut Conference A Division semifinal round. A bonus for Law was when Neider would rotate into the middle, opponents were used to her by now as an outside hitter. She was able to block from there .

Neider sees Law assistant coach Sandra Jaques as a role model.

“She came and helped me so much the beginning my sophomore year,” Neider said. “She and Coach Loch helped make me the player I am. Coach Jaques, being an All-State hitter, really gave me that one up I needed.

“Through all this my family has been the best support system. They have been sure to keep pushing me to be the best I can be, and to make sure I don’t give up. They have been amazing and made me feel like I had so much love and motivation behind me through everything.”

Before turning the corner to attend college, Neider has one more scholastic goal.

“We had our softball season taken away last year by COVID. I am excited to play softball again,” Neider said. “The team aspect is so important to me. Being with my teammates and great coaches. I can’t wait to experience that again.”

william.bloxsom Twitter: @blox354