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Lukasik signs to play volleyball for Army

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SECTIONAL CHAMP: Alyssa Lukasik celebrated with her teammates after Clinton Prairie won their first sectional as a Class 2A school and first at all since 2003 when they beat Seeger on Oct. 13.
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KILLER HITTER: Clinton Prairie’s Alyssa Lukasik, who signed to play collegiately at Army on Wednesday, finished her high school career with 1,265 kills. She had 449 this past season and was named second-team All State by the Indiana High School Volleyball Coaches Association and Player of the Year for the county by the Times for the third straight year.
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ARMY RECRUIT: Clinton Prairie’s Aylssa Lukasik, front center, officially signed her letter of intent to play volleyball for Army on Wednesday after making a verbal commitment this fall. She was joined during the signing at the high school by her parents, front row, Ashley and Mark Haynes; and, back from left, brothers Conner and Hunter Haynes.

BY ANDREW KRULL - akrull@ftimes.com

Clinton Prairie senior Alyssa Lukasik made it official, signing her letter of intent after school on Wednesday to attend and play volleyball for Army in the coming years.

After she announced her commitment to Army, Lukasik told the Times last October that she had never considered a military school before they contacted her and that she had a completely different idea as to the type of weather she planned on to further her education.

“I wanted to go somewhere south where it’s warm and nice, but somehow I got somewhere north,” she said at that time.

As it turns out, Lukasik will have one year of warm weather before she goes to West Point, but it will be in the southwest.

“I’m actually signing to two schools today,” she said. “I’m signing to New Mexico Military Institute because I’m taking a prep year there and then I’ll go to West Point for four years.”

Lukasik had the option of taking that prep year at West Point, but that year would have been absent something that has been constant through most of her life – volleyball.

“They have a prep school at West Point, but they don’t have a volleyball team so I’d be taking a whole year out and I did not want to do that,” she noted. “My coaches advised me to go to New Mexico Military Institute because they actually have a volleyball team there. So, I’ll be playing for five years basically.”

Along with warmer weather, the year at New Mexico Military Institute could provide a conversation starter of a more alien kind.

“New Mexico Military Institute is in Roswell,” she said of the area connected to an alleged UFO crash in 1947 with the resulting conspiracy theories bringing large numbers of tourists to the city.

Lukasik said she’s remained in contact with the coaches at Army since her verbal commitment last fall by text or other means.

“Sometimes we communicate on the phone and when I see them at club tournaments too,” she said. “They said they’re really excited to have me. We’re pretty close.”

Although Lukasik committed to Army months ago, she was happy to make it official with Wednesday’s signing attended by family, teammates, Prairie classmates and a few teachers.

“It’s been a long time coming, so it feels really nice to put it down on paper,” she said.

As for volleyball, Lukasik didn’t have much of a break from competition after Tipton ousted Clinton Prairie from the regional in the state tournament in mid-October. She noted her club team’s (Circle City Volleyball) season started in December and runs through April, with Lukasik noting that season has gone well.

“It’s really good.,” she said. “My team’s actually fifth in the nation right now.”

Lukasik has played the last four years for Circle City.

“I played on a different club when I was 14, but that wasn’t as serious as Circle City is,” she noted.

Lukasik noted that she believes the Army recruiting class is at “four girls” and she expects her role will be similar to what she’s done in the past.

“Probably a middle like I did in high school, because that’s really all I’ve trained my whole life for is to be a middle hitter,” she said.

Army, an NCAA Division I school, had a down year last year, going 14-15 (9-7 Patriot League). Alma Kovaci Lee has been Army’s head coach for the past nine seasons after previously serving as an assistant coach there. She has compiled a 186-85 record during her tenure as head coach. 

In his opening remarks before Lukasik’s signing, Clinton Prairie athletic director Brian Eaton noted Lukasik’s commitment to her sport through club play and at the high school level, which included conference and sectional championships for the Gophers this season.

“So, it’s a pretty cool deal for (someone) who has spent a lot of time on the volleyball court,” he said. “She’s very accomplished in (volleyball) both (at the) team (level) and individually. She’s put a lot of effort into that both in athletics and academics as well.”

Along with the recent school championships (with the sectional being the first Class 2A championship for Prairie ever and its first overall since 2003), Eaton noted Lukasik’s selection as second-team Class 2A All State by the Indiana High School Volleyball Coaches Association this past year.

Lukasik was also named Player of the Year for the county by the Times for the third year in a row, in voting by county coaches and Times staff. She finished this season with 449 kills, 49 aces, 113 blocks (42 solo) and 224 digs. For her career, Lukasik had 1,265 kills.

In closing his remarks, Eaton expressed hopes that Lukasik may have a few more achievements athletically for Prairie before she graduates as a high jumper for the school’s track team.

“Congratulations Alyssa and we wish you the best and we still hope you have a few accomplishments to gain here in the track season,” he said.

Lukasik thanked Eaton, her friends, grandparents and teachers attending Wednesday’s signing, with the effort her parents made in getting her to so many club and high school volleyball events over the years foremost in her gratitude.

“Obviously, my parents (Ashley and Mark Haynes) for running me around everywhere and spending so much money on me and my friends and the rest of my family and my coaches at Circle and my high school coaches as well,” she said.