SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ -- Alexandra Kwasnik has been one of the best volleyball players and most feared hitters in the state this season, and is a big reason why Union Catholic has climbed all the way to No. 2 in the current state rankings.
Kwasnik, a senior who was recently named the MaxPreps/AVCA New Jersey Player of the Week, has put up some jaw-dropping numbers this season to help spark the Vikings to a 13-1 record.
Through 14 matches, the University of Cincinnati-bound Kwasnik has piled up 131 kills, 34 blocks, 55 digs, 90 service points, and has recorded 18 aces to help spark UC to a 13-1 record.
Union Catholic head coach Nancy Saggio said Kwasnik is a special player.
"She's a phenomenal athlete and can really change the momentum of the game with one play,'' said Coach Saggio.
Kwasnik, recognized on the N.J. All Non-Public Second-Team All-State team after a phenomenal junior season last year ,is a great competitor and a true student of the sport, something that has enabled her to keep raising her game to higher levels.
"I go to practice wanting to compete,'' said Kwasnik. "I go to games wanting to win, and then I go home and watch the entire match that I just played. Being able to visually see what I did wrong and what I did well, how our team performed as a whole, how the other team plays, etc. helps me build my volleyball IQ. I am able to read and see the court better than I did last year. My club team competed in Open level tournaments, which allowed me to push myself as we played against nationally ranked teams. I watch a lot of college matches and try to learn from what the players in my position do and what they do in certain situations. I am always trying to improve myself, whether it is my physical or mental game, so I can better help my teams.''
Kwasnik's towering presence (she stands 6-3) and great jumping ability (she won the State Non-Public A high jump title last spring), have combined to make her an unstoppable force at the net at times. But she says her greatest strength is her court awareness.
"My greatest strength as a volleyball player is my IQ,'' said Kwasnik. "I am able to read the court differently than other people do; I see the court from a different perspectives. I have an uncanny blocking ability.''
Kwasnik has big goals for the season.
"My personal goal for the season is to be one of the selected athletes chosen as a 2019 Under Armor All American,'' said Kwasnik. "My other personal goal is I would love to see us be able to win the sectional title again (UC won a sectional title last year) and even a state championship. That would put an extra exclamation point on Coach Saggios' 500th win year. I am super stoked to accomplish all of our goals this season because I know how hard everyone has worked and continues to work.''
Kwasnik said being a member of the team that gave Coach Saggio her 500th victory as head coach at Union Catholic last Friday means a lot to her.
"I am super excited for Saggio's 500th win,'' said Kwasnik. "She has dedicated and sacrificed a lot of her time to be with us and to help us succeed as a team, and also individually. I will always be thankful for her advice and support.''
Kwasnik has been playing volleyball for five years, but has been around the sport her whole life.
"I started playing volleyball in the seventh grade,'' said Kwasnik. "My mom started playing when she was in the 3rd grade as a setter, and my mother and I always passed a ball when I was younger. My town did not have volleyball, so I started playing on a local club team and I was hooked.''
Kwasnik's greatest volleyball accomplishment was placing second at the USAV 2018 Girls Junior National Championships in the International Youth Division. She was one of 12 athletes selected to represent the New Jersey and New York Region (Team GEVA), which played other United States regional teams and international teams.
"The thing I love most about playing volleyball is being able to compete against so many high level athletes around the world!,'' said Kwasnik. "I have made so many connections with players, coaches, and referees in which I still talk to a lot of them today.''
Kwasnik can't wait to continue her academic and volleyball career at the University of Cincinnati.
"I am extremely blessed to be able to attend the University of Cincinnati next year to play volleyball,'' said Kwasnik. "The recruiting process was very hard because I was talking to lots of coaches around the country. I choose Cincinnati because I really loved Molly (Alvey), the head coach, Coach Phillip White (associate head coach), and Kevin Carroll (assistant coach). Each of them brought a different coaching perspective to the court. They are really engaged in improving each players skill sets on and off the court. The girls on the team where just amazing. The energy and competitiveness was one thing that stood out to me when I first saw them play, but off the court, they were all goofy, had big personalities, and connected like one big family.''