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Augsburg the unlikely perfect match for Mayo grad Lang

Lexie Lang fell in love with the Augsburg University volleyball coaching staff. That has never waned as the Minneapolis college has been a sweet fit for the Rochester Mayo graduate.

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Rochester Mayo graduate Lexie Lang prepares to serve during an Augsburg University volleyball match on Sept. 10, 2021, at Si Melby Hall in Minneapolis. Lang is a senior setter for the Auggies. Contributed / Kevin Healy

Rivers, streams, forests, wildlife. All of that seemed certain to be part of the backdrop of wherever Lexie Lang chose to go to college.

This is an outdoors girl.

So of course she’s spent the last four years loving life at Augsburg University, an urban school less than a mile from the onslaught of Interstate 94, in the heart of Minneapolis.

What gives?

Well, the draw of playing for Augsburg volleyball coach Jane Becker and the rest of her staff, that’s what.

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“Hands down, the coaches were why I picked Augsburg,” said Lang, a 2018 Rochester Mayo graduate. “They made me feel at home and like I belonged there. The coaches there treat you like you’re their own kid rather than just a player. Head coach Jane Becker is awesome. She just shows so much compassion.”

But what about the great outdoors and having time to frolic in the woods?

“I’ve found my own hikes to go near Augsburg,” Lang said. “It’s really nice to be down by the (Mississippi) river.”

RELATED: Local athletes reflect on MIAC shifting fall sports The MIAC has moved most of its fall sports to the spring season. Several Rochester-area athletes weigh in on the decision and have hopes they will be able to get a chance to compete in the spring.

Lang, now a senior, showed up at Augsburg as a gritty and athletic setter out of Mayo. She was a dual-sport star with the Spartans, a key cog on excellent volleyball and basketball teams there.

That athleticism jumped out to Becker while recruiting Lang. But there was more than that. Lang also had the stuff that shows up as much off the court as on it. Becker calls them “intangibles” and considers them crucial to team building and winning.

Becker couldn’t miss that Lang had them. Those intangibles became even more present when Lang came for a visit. Becker was certain then that they had a match.

“When I watched her at Mayo, you could tell that Lexie was a good athlete and player,” Becker said. “But you could also see that she cared a lot about her teammates. She had those intangible things. And when she came to visit, she fit in so well. I pretty much knew then where she was going. This was the place she was supposed to be.”

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Making an impact

There have been no regrets by the player or coach ever since. Lang has been betting big minutes at Augsburg since she was a freshman, including being a starting setter the last three years.

Her teams have constantly been among the best in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Conference, going a combined 59-22 during Lang’s stay, including 17-7 in the MIAC.

Through diligence and ability, Lang has had a lot to do with that. Becker has watched her spend countless hours in the summers working on her game. She’s then watched that translate into Lang improving every season.

She was recently named the MIAC Volleyball Defensive Player of the Week after hitting double digits in assists and digs for three straight matches.

“When a player has her heart set on something, she’ll put in the work,” Becker said. “Lexie has improved every part of her game because she’s worked at it. She’s playing at a faster and higher level than ever. She’s done an awesome job at finding our middle hitters, seeing (the opponent’s) block, and improving her defense. Plus, she’s got an incredible serve.”

All of that is driven by her passion for this program.

“I am going to miss this so much when it ends,” said Lang, who’s likely to head to graduate school next year as she pursues a career in occupational therapy. “One-hundred percent, it’s been the connections I’ve made that have made it so special. I live with seven of my teammates and the relationships we’ve made are so strong.”

Those bonds have Lang putting things on the line more than ever this senior season (she has an option for a fifth year due to most of last season being eliminated by the COVID-19 pandemic).

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Lang has been literally laying out for her fellow Auggies the last two months. She’s done that by becoming more familiar than ever with the floor during matches.

There are defensive plays to be made that she’d never before believed possible. Lang has bruises that back up her effort.

“I’m just making a lot more effort (to retrieve) balls that I previously hadn’t,” Lang said. “I’ve started to throw myself on the floor a lot more. The thing that prompted me to do it was watching my teammates do it. Their effort encourages my effort.”

The chance to win the MIAC this season also has ratcheted up things for Lang and her entire team. They believe this can be a special season. Lang is doing everything in her power to make it happen.

That includes all of those diving re-introductions to gymnasium floors.

Pat has been a Post Bulletin sports reporter since 1994. He covers Rochester John Marshall football, as well as a variety of other southeastern Minnesota football teams. Among my other southeastern Minnesota high school beats are girls basketball, boys and girls tennis, boys and girls track and field, high school and American Legion baseball, volleyball, University of Minnesota sports (on occasion) and the Timberwolves (on occasion). Readers can reach Pat at 507-285-7723 or pruff@postbulletin.com.
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