Byron's Lexi Nelson goes with her heart, chooses Augustana to play volleyball
Lexi Nelson, a Byron junior, is following in the footsteps of her mother in picking Augustana University as her college volleyball home.
BYRON — In two years, there’s going to be some deja vu happening at Augustana University in Sioux Falls, S.D.
In 2000, Augustana made it all the way to the NCAA Division II final and finished 30-4 overall. Byron graduate Ann Von Arx was a key member of that team.
In the fall of 2024, a girl with Von Arx bloodlines will slide on an Augustana volleyball uniform. This time it will be the daughter of Ann, Lexi Nelson, who will be wearing the Vikings’ blue and gold.
A 5-foot-11 junior middle hitter at Byron, Lexi committed to Division II school Augustana on Feb. 13.
It was a natural.
“My mom played volleyball at Augustana, so growing up, we’d go through Sioux Falls and visit friends,” Nelson said. “We’d drive through campus to see her school. I wondered then if I’d end up going there. When I went on my visit (in the past year) there, I felt so relaxed and excited at the same time. I could see myself walking through those halls and playing in that gym.”
Nelson spent this past fall season at Byron as one of the key performers on its excellent 19-9 team. Nelson finished with 160 kills, 217 digs, 42 blocks and 30 service aces. She also showed a propensity for perfectly placing the ball to teammates.
Her biggest impact, though, came from her swing. It just keeps getting better.
“The biggest stride I made this year was with my swing,” Nelson said. “It’s really become powerful and I’ve learned to not just use my shoulder when I swing, but my core and the rest of my body.”
Things began taking off for Nelson since joining Junior Olympic team Southern Minnesota Volleyball following her sophomore high school season at Byron. Also forever pleased with the high school coaching she’s received at Byron, Nelson quickly came to appreciate hearing from as many volleyball voices as possible and sorting through new ideas about the game.
The constant competition, with SMV starting in early December and not ending until May, has also lifted her.
“SMV has definitely helped me skills-wise,” Nelson said. “I’ve learned so many different things from them. All the coaches at Byron have been phenomenal, but to get different coaches’ perspectives, with them noticing things I can fine tune, has been great. There is just so much for me to learn. Every day that I go to practice, I wonder what will happen. There is always going to be something new.”
There is also excitement and fun waiting for Nelson whenever — and for whoever — she plays.
No question, volleyball courts are her happy place.
“Volleyball is beyond comparison for me,” said Nelson, who also plays basketball at Byron and last year was in track and field. “I love every single team that I’m on. It is just so fun for me. Every time I step on the court, I’m excited.”
Choosing Augustana as her college wasn’t easy for Nelson. She also gave serious consideration to the University of Minnesota Duluth. That’s where Century senior and fellow SMV standout Paige Decker is headed. The coaching there also appealed to her as did all of the scenery in Duluth.
But in the end, Augustana won out. Home is where the heart is. And for Nelson, Augustana has felt like home for a long time.