When Encinitas native Lexi Sun, the top high school volleyball player in the United States, began her athletic career while still a child she originally excelled at another sport. “I grew up playing competitive soccer for Surf in Del Mar and we won back-to-back state championships,” said Sun, who was born and raised in Encinitas. “That was until I was 11 years old. I was a head taller than all of my friends when my parents forced me to try volleyball. At first I was furious. I didn’t want to leave my team that I had grown up playing with, but my parents promised me that if I tried volleyball and didn’t like it, they’d let me go back to soccer.”
Sun begrudgingly agreed, but it turned out that her parents had the right idea. In the decade since that fateful shift from soccer to volleyball, Sun has constructed an astounding career, collecting a multitude of accomplishments and accolades playing for both Santa Fe Christian and Team USA’s squads, and capturing national attention thanks to her skill on the court along the way. Named ALL-USA’s Player of the Year last December led ESPN to dub Sun “NCAA Volleyball’s Next Breakout Star” after the rising player signed onto the ranks of the University of Texas Longhorns, which she joins this fall.
Notable from the start, Sun’s tenure at Santa Fe Christian wrapped up with the player leading her team to win the CIF Championship her senior year, which she considers her most memorable moment as an athlete. “(I was) alongside my lifelong friends while getting the opportunity to represent our school and, most importantly, God.”
The CIF win was a perfect bookend for Sun, who spent the summer before her senior year with Team USA, traveling to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., where she played alongside some of the top high school athletes in the country. “The head coach, Laurie Corbelli, led our team to the Norecca 2016 Championship,” says Sun of the experience. “Although we didn’t win, it was an honor to put on a USA jersey and gain experience playing against international teams.” For Sun, it was her second time with Team USA. In the summer of 2015, the star player was the squad’s top scorer during World Championships in Peru.
Those multiple once-in-an-athletic-life experiences led to Sun’s Player of the Year accolade, which ALL-USA bestowed on Sun based on in-season performance, level of competition and strength of schedule. In addition, Sun was also named Gatorade’s 2016-2017 Volleyball Player of the Year. Receiving the awards made Sun “all the more thankful for the endless support and encouragement of my family, coaches and friends who helped me get to the position I am today.”
Both accolades make Sun the first incoming Longhorn recruit in 20 years to be named Player of the Year, signaling an upcoming renaissance for the team. It’ll also be the first time that Sun has lived anywhere other than her childhood home in Encinitas, but, of course, she’s up for the challenge. In fact, Sun is already in Austin and gearing up for the the upcoming season.
“Even though I do miss sunny San Diego greatly, I am excited to get the opportunity to experience a new culture in Texas and make lifelong memories and friendships,” Sun said. “(Right now I’m) working out with the team and taking my first two college classes.”
And, naturally, Sun is looking forward to yet another top prize. “I am beyond excited for the fall season to start to get the opportunity to play and compete for another national championship.”