Southwestern volleyball player Lexi Means is pictured in action during her senior season. (Courier file photo)
Southwestern volleyball player Lexi Means is pictured in action during her senior season. (Courier file photo)
Lexi Means has meant everything to Southwestern's volleyball program in three years as a starter. Under her watch, the Lady Rebels have won three Ohio River Valley Conference championships, at least 20 games each season and the first sectional title in the program's history.

On Wednesday, Means was rewarded for that play by getting the ultimate individual honor, a college athletic scholarship, when she signed to play for Union College in Barbourville, Ky., starting next fall.

"I'm happy. I'm excited," said Means, who was surrounded by family, coaches and school administrators at a signing ceremony at the Southwestern High School library on Wednesday. "I'm ready and I can't wait to get started."

Means got the chance to play at the next level by being arguably the best all-around player in the ORVC the past two years. While Means made her mark as an outside hitter, she was equally adept at serving and playing the back row.

"Lexi has had a tremendous career. She set the school record for kills and aces this season and was second in a few others," Southwestern coach Chris Johnson said. "I told her that if she improved her individual game that it would translate into team accomplishments and it has. She has been a big part to our success these past few seasons."

It has been apparent for the past few years that Means would have a chance to play collegiately. The only question was where she would end up going.

Means said that while she appreciated Union's past history, the decision really came down to academics.

"I was looking at both Asbury (Ky.) and Union and I picked Union because it fit better with what I want to do," Means said of the two NAIA Division II programs. "I want to get into nursing and Union has a terrific nursing program."

Union coach Chuck Amshoff, who was on hand for the signing, said he was impressed with Means from the first time he saw her play.

"I got a call from a friend, Gary Timberlake, who told me about her and said that I should come out and take a look," Amshoff said. "She was aggressive, she knows how to move the ball around on the floor and she's got that attitude that will help drive our team and push ourselves even further."

It is that attitude that Johnson has been the most impressed with. While Means has always had the raw talent to be an outstanding volleyball player, it was her role as the team's leader that had the biggest impact this past season.

"What I'm the happiest about is that Lexi really grew into a leader. She was the leader on the floor and off the floor," Johnson said. "She was very vocal, she's a very hard worker and she leads by example. I know the younger girls, even the eighth graders coming in, looked up to her this past season."

Means said that she feels like she needs to work on getting better in all facets of the game and is ready for whatever role Union has for her. Amshoff said Means will get a chance to step right in and play.

"What I've always told my players is that they don't have any time to be freshmen. They have to hit the floor right away," Amshoff said. "I think Lexi has the ability to come in and contribute. That's one of the reasons why I liked her."

Means is just the latest in a line of recent Southwestern volleyball players to get a chance to play at the next level - joining Devin Clark (Hanover), Camille Cline (Florida College) and Danielle Clark (Manchester) in recent years.

Johnson noted that the players' individual success is directly tied to the program's team success.

"I've been here nine years and those first two years we had losing records as we were rebuilding the program but now we've had seven-straight winning seasons, three-straight ORVC titles, a sectional title and four girls playing at the college level," Johnson said. "I think it says a lot about this program and about the players in it. It really comes down to them. All of the credit goes to these girls."