HER FIRST LOVE
was basketball. As the tallest girl in her grade school class, Alix Klineman
would "just drive to the basket and everybody would run away," she
says. "I enjoyed it until I started getting beaten up by girls [who seemed
to be] 100 pounds heavier than me."
Klineman, who grew up three blocks from the ocean in Manhattan Beach, Calif.,
found refuge on a sandier court. At age eight she attended her first volleyball
camp with her older brother, Max, who is now a sophomore setter at UC Santa
Barbara. She was hooked, and pestered big bro to practice with her. "We
would play pepper every day until we got into an argument," Alix says.
Klineman enters her senior year at Mira Costa High as the top-ranked player in
the country, according to PrepVolleyball.com. The website's editor, John Tawa,
calls Klineman, an outside hitter, the best talent he's seen in years. "She
does everything well-she can pass and play defense, and she's a tremendous
blocker," he says. "But attacking is her calling card. She contacts the
ball above 10 feet and hits it down at such an angle that no back-row player
can get the ball up."
year-round training that has bulked her up to 165 pounds, Klineman is now the
one delivering on-court punishment, having broken a couple of her opponents'
fingers with ferocious spikes. She led Mira Costa to a Division I state title
last year, and she finished her junior season with 350 kills, 35 aces and 179
digs. She followed that last month by winning a gold medal with the U.S. team
at the Women's Junior Championships in Mexico.
Klineman, who carries a 3.9 GPA and plans to major in communications, has
narrowed her choice of colleges to Hawaii, Stanford, Texas, UCLA and
Washington. She's used to being in demand. While in Hawaii for a tournament
three years ago, her coach, Dae Lea Aldrich, was approached by a film producer
who asked if Klineman would be interested in modeling. Aldrich promptly spiked
his offer. "Alix won't be modeling," she said. "She's an