During any CSU volleyball match, there is a clear connection among the players on the court. But before they became teammates, some of these Rams were intense rivals.
Outside hitter Alex Reid and defensive specialist/setter Grace Gordon have been playing together since they were 14-year-olds at Grandview High School in Aurora, and at Colorado Volleyball Academy for their club team.
At that same time, CSU libero Jaime Colaizzi was attending Windsor High School and playing for NORCO Volleyball Club, where found herself going against the dynamic duo of Reid and Gordon on the court more often than either party would have liked.
While playing for the Colorado Volleyball Academy, Reid and Gordon became all too familiar with their current teammate.
“I would always set Alex, and she would get so mad because Jaime would dig her like every single time,” Gordon said. “So it was kind of just like a rivalry, but also like I really looked up to (Jaime) because of how good she was.”
The tension between Colaizzi and Reid on the court during their club years was known to all. Colaizzi, who ranks second all-time at CSU with 1,394 career digs, had an agenda when she went up against Reid.
“It was awesome, I had so much fun playing them because every time my goal walking into that game was like, ‘alright I’m gonna dig this girl,” Colaizzi said with a smile. “Because she was the one on their team who just got so many kills so I was like, ‘nope, I’m digging her’.”
Reid excels offensively, leading the Rams with 4.08 points per set, and is also one of their most reliable all-around players, ranking second on the team in digs behind Colaizzi.
Reid appreciates now having Colaizzi on her side of the net, but at one point was not very fond of having to play against the fellow senior, since Colaizzi has made a career out of frustrating opposing hitters.
“Well, I hated playing against Jaime in high school because she was so good and I remember always playing her in club and she always dug every ball that I hit,” Reid said. “It was super frustrating. But now I’m on her side, so she can dig balls for me.”
Reid was not the only one who got frustrated by the match up though.
“It made me so mad every time she got a kill on me,” Colaizzi said. “Literally all throughout our club years, which was probably like seven years, we had this little rivalry going on.”
The intense rivalry came to an end as Reid, Gordon and Colaizzi all went on to play at the collegiate level.
Reid and Gordon’s lethal combination was split up heading as they both parted for different schools. Reid played Long Beach State before transferring to CSU this year for her senior season, and Grace played at the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs before transferring to CSU.
“I just remember the last time that we thought we were going to play together,” Gordon said, “because we’ve played together for forever, so we were crying on the court and we were hugging because we thought it was the last time we would ever play volleyball together. And now she’s here and it’s kind of like a little fairy tale I guess. Happy endings; dreams come true.”
Colaizzi said she and Gordon had talked about the possibility of Reid transferring to CSU before they actually knew that the outside hitter was planning to return to her home state.
“I remember the day, we were losing a bunch of people or something and we were talking about, ‘holy cow, we need another outside hitter’ and then Grace was like, ‘it would be so cool if Alex came and played here’.”
Reid said that her decision to transfer to CSU was greatly influenced by Gordon, her lifelong teammate.
“I loved playing with Grace in high school,” Reid said. “She was a big influence in me coming (to CSU) because I got to play with my teammate again.”
For Reid, it has not only been comforting playing with her teammates from previous years again, but it has also been beneficial for the team’s execution on the court.
“I know what makes them tick,” Reid said, “and certain things that will help them in the game, so that makes our connection on the court stronger just because I’ve known them for so long.”
From teammates, to rivals, to teammates once more, there is nothing more exciting to these three than being able to play together once more.
“We’re really lucky to all get to play together,” Gordon said.
Collegian Sports Reporter Pia Myers can be reached by email at email@example.com and on Twitter @ByPiaMyers.