West Xtra: Versatile Ambridge girl hunts for the right college

GIRLS VOLLEYBALL

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Lexi Hilzendeger is taking time from her busy schedule this weekend to attend a volleyball showcase at California University of Pennsylvania.

"I've been invited to compete in a volleyball showcase this weekend," said Hilzendeger, a senior at Ambridge Area High School. "It's for players who are still uncommitted to a college. There will be several coaches attending who have shown an interest in me."

Hilzendeger, a 5-foot-10 outside hitter, recently completed her third season on the Bridgers volleyball team.

"Lexi is a three-sport star who has started for me since her sophomore year," said Ambridge volleyball coach Kim Bogati. "She's been voted to the WPIAL [Class AA] All-Star Team all three years. And she ranks second in her class. It's not often that you see an athlete excel in three sports and do that well in the classroom. You can't ask much more from a student-athlete."

Hilzendeger was voted to the third team of the WPIAL Class AA All-Stars as a sophomore. She appeared on the second team last year and again this year.

"This showcase will give me a chance to show college coaches what I can do," Hilzendeger said. "We will be doing various drills then play each other to showcase our talents. Only seniors participate the first day [Saturday]. Juniors and seniors participate the second day [Sunday]."

Hilzendeger has already received one offer.

"I've been accepted at W&J [Washington & Jefferson] and they have offered me a scholarship worth $16,000," Hilzendeger said. "I've also applied at a few other schools. I'm waiting to see what they have to offer before I make a decision."

Hilzendeger also plays basketball and softball for the Bridgers.

"I've been playing sports since I was in first grade," Hilzendeger said. "I was even into dance and gymnastics when I was younger. I really enjoy athletic competition."

Hilzendeger will finish her high school career with 11 varsity letters.

"I started on the softball and basketball teams as a freshman," Hilzendeger said. "I didn't play volleyball on the varsity team until my sophomore year because coach Bogati doesn't use freshmen on the varsity."

Bogati has seen firsthand what Hilzendeger can do on and off the court.

"I had Lexi as a student," Bogati said. "I teach English and I had her in an [advanced placement] English class. She's very insightful and very intelligent. She's an all-round nice girl."

Hilzendeger has found that balancing academics and athletics can be very tough.

"It can be very overwhelming at times," Hilzendeger said. "Last year was especially tough. I took so many AP classes. I struggled a bit at times, but I ended up with all A's."

Hilzendeger has a 4.2 grade point average and is ranked No. 2 in her class. Volleyball teammate Abby Brewer is first.

"I took one college course last year that earned me four college credits," Hilzendeger said. "I'm taking two college courses this year."

Hilzendeger wants to major in pre-med.

"I would like to go into oncology and work with cancer patients," Hilzendeger said.

With her final volleyball season completed, Hilzendeger begins her final basketball season.

"I'm one of two seniors on our basketball team," Hilzendeger said. "Almost everybody else on our team are sophomores or freshmen. We're going to have a young team, but I feel we can be very good."

Hilzendeger has collected three WPIAL silver medals during her career.

"We made it to the WPIAL finals in softball my freshman and sophomore seasons," Hilzendeger said. "Our basketball team made it to the finals in my sophomore year. I would like to win a WPIAL gold medal before I graduate."

Hilzendeger also finds time to play on travel teams with volleyball and softball.

"I play for the Renaissance Volleyball Club," Hilzendeger said. "My coach is Brian Begor. He's really helped me over the years."

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