Westminster’s Alexis Troy is attempting to lead the Owls to an undefeated volleyball season while her father Matt, head coach at Johns Hopkins University, beams
by Katherine Dunn
Volleyball intrigued Westminster setter Alexis Troy at such a young age that she doesn’t even remember when.
At 6 or 7, she liked to tag along to the Johns Hopkins University gym where her father, Matt Troy, is head coach of the women’s volleyball team. Of course, she wanted to play too.
“She would pick up the ball and she would want to pepper with our college players,” Matt Troy said. “She would always be trying to get their attention to come over and play with her. I think I have a video where I came home one day and she was practicing her attacking in our living room and she was like, ‘Like this, Dad?’ She kept trying to show me, so I would give her little pointers and she would try it.”
The game stuck with Alexis, who started playing club volleyball in the fourth grade and now plays for the Columbia Volleyball Academy.
“I think I was good at it and everybody wants to be good at something,” she said. “I don’t know the exact reason why I kept doing it. It was just fun to play and a stress reliever. Every time, I’d go in the gym, it was just volleyball. If I had a bad day, I would just play it out.”
Now an All-Carroll County setter, Alexis helped the Owls earn a berth in the Class 3A state semifinals in 2019. In this COVID-shortened season, she averages 8.53 assists per set as Westminster aims for a third straight county championship.
At 6-0, the Owls have swept every opponent and will conclude their season at home against South Carroll on April 8.
Alexis said she’s aiming for a perfect record and also for the Owls to sweep every set. That would one-up her dad whose Blue Jays won the 2019 Division III national championship with a 35-0 record, but they did lose a few sets along the way.
They both laugh about that.
For a volleyball player with a father who coaches the sport, that dynamic could make for a difficult relationship, but Alexis and Matt Troy found a middle ground that worked for them even while he coached her club team when she was 13 and again last year.
Since that first living-room attacking session, her dad is there any time she’s looking for volleyball advice. Unless she asks, Matt Troy said, tries to limit that to game days.
“He always comes to my tournaments and gives me little tips and pointers. He’ll write in his notes things he noticed during a game and we go over them. He’ll make me watch film of myself,“ said Alexis, who admitted she wasn’t always thrilled with the film sessions but they were never a major issue.
“We talk about volleyball stuff, but it shuts off and we still have our everyday conversations,” she said.
There’s a lot of volleyball talk in the Troy household. Two more of Matt and Melissa Troy’s four daughters play — Kamryn, a freshman at Manchester Valley, and Emily, a seventh-grade club player. Only fifth-grader Brooke hasn’t caught the volleyball bug.
Melissa Troy, who played volleyball at Westminster College in Pennsylvania, said her husband and oldest daughter have a great relationship off the court and it’s not bad on the court either even when he’s coaching her.
“She does like his input to a certain extent just like any teenager,” Melissa Troy said with a laugh. “[When he coached her club team] I wouldn’t say she loved it, but she did like it. She felt like she learned a ton and he’s always very careful to not put the spotlight on the she’s-the-coach’s-daughter kind of thing. He really tries to let her be her own person. I think she likes it when everybody loves when he runs practices. There’s a little sense of pride there.”
Alexis, 5-foot-7, played two years of volleyball at Riverbend High School in Fredericksburg, Va. while her father coached at the University of Mary Washington before he returned to Johns Hopkins in 2019.
Although she started out as a libero or outside hitter, she switched to setting in eighth grade. She jokes that her father said she was too short for a hitter, but the move was calculated to give Alexis the best chance to play college volleyball. Most college hitters are taller, so being able to set in addition to her other skills would improve her opportunities to be recruited.
She liked the position too.
“I like being in control of the game,” she said, “and I feel like even though I didn’t get the kill, I was a part of the kill or I was a part of the play in some way, so I made an impact.”
For now, she doesn’t plan to play college volleyball. Alexis, who has a 4.2 weighted GPA, will attend Loyola Maryland in the fall to study computer science. She said there’s always the possibility she could try to walk on as a sophomore or play club volleyball, but that depends on academics.
Westminster coach Evan Frock has no doubt Alexis could play at the college level. Almost all of the Owls’ offense runs through her and she has 145 assists as well as 28 digs, 15 aces, eight kills and four blocks in 17 sets this season.
Frock said he’s been most impressed by “her athleticism and her willingness to make the difficult set. She’ll go against the flow a lot and it really messes with the other team’s blockers… She’s been playing a long time and she knows the ins and outs of volleyball and has a lot more experience than other girls she’s playing against.”
For her career, Alexis has 667 assists in 128 sets and has 208 digs, 80 aces, 79 kills and 11 blocks.
Matt Troy said he’s enjoyed watching Alexis play for the Owls, something he hasn’t always been able to do as a college volleyball coach.
“It’s been fun seeing all her hard work culminate into the player that she’s become and also watching her being a leader,” Matt Troy said.
“They have a freshman setter on their team (Faith Mohr) and Alexis can understand all that Faith’s going through. Alexis was also a freshman on varsity and that’s certainly not an easy position to be in… so it’s been a lot of fun just to watch from the sideline and to see her supporting Faith and enjoying that relationship It’s something that Alexis is passing on to her that hopefully Faith, down the road, will be able to pass on to future players. For me, just watching her grow as a person has probably been the most enjoyable piece.”