Every season has its ups and downs, but junior setter and right-side hitter Alex Caldwell has been a beacon of consistency for Penn volleyball.
Through her three years at Penn, Caldwell has established herself as a cornerstone to coach Kerry Carr’s game plan every week.
For the current volleyball standout, the sport didn’t come into the picture until middle school.
“I started playing in sixth grade,” Caldwell said. “Everyone played volleyball just for fun. In seventh grade, I tried out for the club team and I made the [first] team as a middle blocker, [with] no idea what I was doing.”
Though the San Jose, Calif. native’s athletic success shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise. Athleticism runs through Caldwell’s blood, as her sister ran cross-country for UCLA between 2002 and 2006, a career that saw multiple All-American honors.
While the beginning of her volleyball career is in the past, if you watch number 24 now it’s hard to believe there was a time when she was lost on the court. Throughout middle school and high school, Caldwell settled into the sport and her career took off from there.
“Volleyball is a game all about experience,” Caldwell said. “It gets a lot easier over time. I love the sport; I can’t imagine playing an individual sport because I’ve always been with a team. It’s been a great ride.”
And while Penn hasn’t yet found its place among the top of the league, Caldwell was no stranger to success in high school.
“My sophomore year in high school we went 38-0 and were ranked number one in the nation with a perfect record. It was amazing, we had nine seniors that all committed to D-1 schools,” she said.
“I was only a little sophomore, but they took me under their wing. It was great for me because I had so many people to look up to. They really set the tone, so when I was a junior I knew what to do in terms of bringing the younger players up.”
Caldwell’s leadership has shown throughout her career. After committing to Penn, she was twice named Ivy League Rookie of the Week as a freshman. She finished fifth on the team in kills and second in assists, recording seven triple-doubles along the way.
In her sophomore year, Caldwell was named second team All-Ivy and finished her season with 185 kills, 643 assists and 203 digs while recording three triple-doubles. She was second on the team with 20 service aces.
This season for Caldwell has been just like any other. As in other seasons, Caldwell has remained a leader on and off the court.
“I’m the type of leader than can be everyone’s friend on the court,” Caldwell said, “but I can also be someone that you can go to just to talk. We don’t have a lot of drama on our team but I feel like I’m a person who’s easy to talk to on and off the court.”
Her teammates can laugh and joke with her, but their opponents should approach with caution. After posting her first triple-double of the season this year, Coach Kerry Carr had plenty of praise.
“I always expect that out of Alex,” she said. “When you have a player like that who is so talented athletically, teams will camp out on her. We see that kind of play from Alex every day in practice.”
With Penn looking long-term in the offeseason, the Quakers will likely go with what is natural to them going forward. For Alex Caldwell, that something is greatness.
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