Not having a senior girls volleyball team at De La Salle hasn’t hurt Alexandra Poletto.
The 17-year-old has earned a full scholarship to Division 1 school Colorado State University to join the Rams indoor squad as a middle blocker.
The decision was not based on her career as an Oakland, but her work as a member of the Leaside Lightning Under-17 squad, which won silver at the provincial and national level.
It’s also related to her strong showing on the sand.
In beach volleyball Poletto netted a gold medal in the U-21 Canadian Beach Nationals in 2012-13.
Since the Oaklands had no senior girls volleyball team, partially due to too few players, head coach Andrew Tulshi said the girl he coached in grades 9 and 10 came out to help with the junior squad.
“So, where she wasn’t able to represent the school as a player, I think as a student to help out and mentor other girls was amazing,” he said, in his De La Salle office in late March. “She really helped that team, especially the girls who were on the fringe, to decide to take volleyball more seriously since they saw her play.
“We have more girls than ever playing club, and I think she had a lot to do with that.”
For the 6-foot-3 Poletto, though, a career in volleyball almost never happened.
“Honestly, I was scared to try out for rep volleyball because I thought I was going to be really bad, but my height allowed me to join the team,” she told the Town Crier over the phone lines, adding her parents were also critics at first.
“My parents are very traditional — you have to go to school and get a good job — but then when they started to see my success, they started to say, ‘Okay, maybe you can take this somewhere’.”
The success has come in, thanks to being under the tutelage of 1996 Atlanta Summer Games bronze medallist John Child. He coaches Leaside Lightning, and was the bench boss when the underdog local team claimed silver both in Ontario and nationally.
“He is obviously very experienced, and he provides a lot of good advice, tactical and skill wise,” Poletto said. “He helped us a lot last year during the provincials.”
As for what turf Poletto prefers to play on — hardwood or sand — it’s all a matter of the season.
“In the summertime (when) I’m playing beach I love beach way more than indoor, but when I start my indoor season I love indoor,” she said.
This summer, Poletto will join partner Tiadora Miric of Thornhill to vie for a medal at the Under-19 World Championships in Porto, Portugal.
When August rolls around, she’ll be headed to Fort Collins, Colo. to join the Rams roster for training.
She won’t be the only Canadian on the squad, though. Dana Cranston, out of Fort St. John, B.C., will be there too.
The goal for Poletto in mile-high country is to crack the starting lineup, and then perhaps taking the 23rd-ranked NCAA squad deeper into the playoffs.
Later on, she says, it’s either to go pro in Europe or make the Olympics.