Greene County News
FAIRBORN — When the Wright State volleyball team was preparing for its 2016 season, head coach Susan Clements gave the players index cards and asked them to write down the names of teammates with whom they would prefer to share living space during the upcoming academic year.
When she collected those cards, Clements noticed one name was on every card — Alannah Lemming.
“That says a lot about the kind of person she is,” Clements said. “She’s friends with everyone. She has such a good nature about her. It goes a long way with her teammates.”
Lemming is also a good player who is only getting better. Her 23 kills and nine blocks in three matches during the season-opening Holiday Inn Invitational earned the 6-foot-3 sophomore middle blocker a spot on the all-tournament team.
“I definitely feel we saw a more confident player last weekend than when she was a freshman,” Clements said. “We saw her be able to step up in big moments and get the big blocks. Or, if we called her number for the kill, she came through. For her to come out the first weekend and be so consistent helps us feel like we can push her to another level—one where she can be dominating.”
Lemming was certainly dominating in high school. She was honorable-mention All-State on a team that advanced to the district finals. Lemming had been recruited by Wright State since the summer after her sophomore year, but she was also receiving attention from Kent State, Miami (Ohio), and North Texas. Lemming visited Wright State’s campus several times before finally committing to the Raiders—and becoming the tallest player Clements has signed since being named head coach in 2012.
“I am really big on family and Wright State felt like family—the players, the coaches, everyone in the athletic office,” Lemming said.
For the Lemmings, “big” and “family” go together. Brian Lemming, Alannah’s father, is 6-7. Her mother, Monica, is 5-9. In school, Alannah was always the tallest kid in the room.
“I don’t think I really went through an awkward phase,” Alannah Lemming said. “I’ve always embraced how tall I am. I always got asked to get things on the top shelf. That was my role, and I was OK with it. Even with boys, it was never a negative. In sports, I was never clunky or baby-deerish, but I was slow.”
Lemming eventually gained speed, but she retained a long, thin frame. The weight room was not her preferred habitat in high school, meaning Wright State’s strength coaches were presented with a challenge when Lemming reported for her freshman season.
“Middle blockers take a beating because they jump so many times and need to transition (from defense to offense) so quickly,” Clements said. “When we think of strength, we think more of injury prevention. We tell them, ‘The weight room will keep you on the court.’ With the beating she’s going to take, we need to keep her as strong as possible so she doesn’t have those little nagging injuries that can come.”
Lemming has become more familiar with the weight room at Wright State. For instance, she said, her back squat has improved from 50 kilos (110 pounds) to 77 kilos (169 pounds).
As her strength grew, Lemming lacked only experience to become an effective college player. She spent most of her freshman season watching senior middle blocker Marisa Aiello during matches and being “schooled” by Aiello during practices. But that proved to be time well spent.
“The coaches said, ‘Watch Marisa and how fast she is in transition,’” Lemming said. “I saw that, when I go up to block, if I don’t get off the net fast enough to get set, it takes me out of the offense. When I got thrown into a game, I don’t know if I looked overwhelmed, but I didn’t feel overwhelmed.”
“(Aiello) gave Alannah a really good visual role model,” Clements said. “It was nice for Alannah to be opposite of a senior playing at such a high level. Every day in practice, she was going against someone who was quite a ways ahead of her. It made her work hard to catch up. By the end of the season, she was ready to go out there and contribute.”
Lemming started Wright State’s last five matches and ended the season leading the team in blocks per set (1.40). The Raiders won 15 matches, 10 more than in 2014.
“Everybody was so excited,” Lemming said. “We were on an uphill. We were moving forward.”
Lemming hopes that forward momentum continues this season. Meanwhile, she will continue to pursue her off-the-court interests as well as her degree in communication (with a minor in marketing). She has done a couple regional modeling assignments in Columbus and would like to do more. She would like to volunteer at an animal shelter and play sand volleyball. Lemming enjoys cooking vegetarian meals for her teammates.
For now, her focus is on the young season and this weekend’s trip to Kent State for the Golden Flashes Classic.
“Alannah has really blossomed and found a good role on this team and good relationships with her teammates,” Clements said. “She’s earned her spot.”