Libertyville’s Alex Basler has brains and brawn

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Alex Basler knows where she wants to go. Volleyball is helping her to get there.

Libertyville’s 6-2 middle hitter has committed to play next fall at Cornell, an Ivy League school located in Ithaca, New York. One of the nation’s top privately-endowed institutions, its business school has been ranked No. 3 in the nation by Bloomberg Businessweek.

“I love playing volleyball, but a big part of it for me was that I still wanted to go to a really strong academic school,” she said.

“She’s a very smart player,” Libertyville coach Greg Loika said. “Smart players go to smart schools.”

Playing at Cornell next year will continue what has been a storybook career for Basler. As a sophomore in 2012, she started on the Wildcats’ team that finished fourth in the state.

“That was incredible just to be on that team with such strong leaders like Cindy Zhou and Kristen Webb,” Basler said. “I was so lucky to be able to be a starter and contribute to that team. It was incredible the success that team had.”

Basler has been able to continue that success. Last weekend, she and her teammates surprised Marist and Sandburg to finish second at the Wheaton Classic. Basler entered Game 3 of the Sandburg match with her team trailing 12-7. When she left, they led 19-16.

Sandburg used a 6-0 run to retake the lead, but the Wildcats rallied to win, with Basler still seated on the bench.

“The girls look up to her, not only for her skills, but also her passion for going out there and doing it the right way,” Loika said. “When we’re in a rut and we’re struggling, she is the one who’s rallying everybody, whether she’s out there on the court or on the bench.”

Basler, who had six kills Monday as Libertyville improved to 17-4 with a 25-23, 25-23 win over New Trier, said that it’s all about trust.

“A big part of volleyball is being able to trust your teammates,” she said. “I know no matter who’s out there, they’re going to be able to put the ball away. There’s always going to be players out there who will do their job. I want to be out there, but you have to trust in your teammates.”

Next year, Basler will entrust the Libertyville program to a new generation of players, including her younger and slightly shorter sister Gaby who is a sophomore.

“I don’t know where my genes came from, but she’s going to be around 5-8, 5-9,” Basler said. “I try to help her out a little bit, but you don’t want to be too bossy. You can only take so much advice from your big sister.”

Unless your big sister is as smart as she is good.

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