East Metro Girls Volleyball Player of the Year: Eastview’s Lauren Crowl

Lauren Crowl has long led Eastview with her play, pacing the Lightning with her hitting and blocking.
But this year, that leadership became vocal, and fierce.
Eastview coach Becky Egan recalled the team’s second-to-last match of the season against rival Rosemount, which went to a fifth set. That set was a tight back-and-forth affair. Late in the contest, Crowl put her arms around her teammates.
“And literally, one by one, she looked them in the eyes and said, ‘Let’s go!’ ” Egan said. “You just saw the fire build within that. I looked at my assistant and said, ‘Alright, we’re good.’ Because in that moment, you just knew it was going to be right.”
Eastview won the set 18-16 to take the match.
The Gophers commit and Pioneer Press East Metro Volleyball Player of the Year led the way statistically, finishing with 191 kills, 15 digs, 33 total blocks and 25 aces. Perhaps more important, the senior outside hitter inspired those around her.
“In my opinion, that’s a true sense of a leader — she had followers,” Egan said. “Teammates and players wanted to play for her, which I think is a really special thing she brought.”
Along with her leadership, Crowl also saw her confidence soar this season. That may have been a side effect of her growing game. Always a dominant hitter, Crowl finished second on the team in digs this season and is comfortable in the serve-receive game, a true six-rotation player.
That wasn’t always necessarily the case.
“I think (that progression) was really cool, because I remember I used to be so not confident in serve-receive,” Crowl said. “And now I’m like, ‘Oh, I can do this. It’s easy. Serve at me.’ ”
Egan noticed a difference in Crowl over the summer in the way she interacted with others and seemed to take control. Crowl, Egan said, has “it.” And “it” came out by necessity. Crowl realized early on while this might not be the most talented team in Minnesota; if it was going to succeed, it would come with hard work.
She wanted to lead that charge.
“I just needed to set the tone playing-level wise, and then everyone would kind of follow me,” Crowl said, “and it would motivate them to want to work hard and get better.”
Crowl herself is still improving. In a statement, Gophers coach Hugh McCutcheon said Crowl is “a lefty right-side who hits with power and range. She can play the whole game, puts up a formidable block and has a ton of potential.”
The 6-foot-4 hitter certainly has that. Egan described Crowl as a “Bambi” who has plenty of room to grow.
“She has so much physically to tap into, with her offense, with her jumping — even though she’s got a ridiculous vertical — with her back row play, I think it’s going to elevate that much more,” she said. “Being in a gym like the Gophers’ … I think she’s going to absolutely thrive in that environment.”
“I’m really excited,” Crowl said. “It’s going to be a big change, but I’m excited for it.”
FINALISTS
Kira Fallert, senior outside hitter, Concordia Academy: Powerful, strategic hitter who also is an exceptional passer. Headed to Northern Iowa.
Lauren Galvin, senior outside hitter, East Ridge: Six-rotation star was East Ridge’s best hitter and server. Also a great passer, she will play at St. Thomas.
Ava Moes, senior outside hitter, Lakeville South: Game-changing blocker who also is a strong hitter. Tennessee signee.
Teagan Starkey, senior setter, Lakeville South: Concordia-St. Paul commit is efficient, smart and knowledgeable.
Anna Wolf, senior middle blocker, River Falls: Hugh McCutcheon described the Gophers commit as “an efficient scorer at every level she’s played.”
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