December 21, 2020 – By NJP

Donovan Catholic is on the verge of one of those magical years. You know the ones. When all your star players turn senior in the same season. And you also have some younger players, maybe even including a star freshman, that can provide the intangibles to put you over the top.

Lexi Franzyshen is one of eight senior varsity returning players who will take the floor for the Griffins this year. She will also be one of the Captains for the 2021 squad along with Karin Ojeda, Maddy Elsey, and Maddie Winch. Donovan finished 29-5 in 2019 and made it all the way to the private school semi-finals in the state tournnament before losing to eventual state champ Immaculate Heart. It’s a dynamic group with unlimited potential and perhaps the ability to take down perennial Shore leader Southern, who represented three of their 5 overall losses.

Lexi is a star, on a team of stars and contributors to the Griffins goals. She has played middle and outside and has great jumping ability on the block. She was not blessed with a 6′ frame but she makes the most out of her 5’6″ size (or as Lexi puts it 5′ 5 3/4″).

Franzyshen was active on the attack with great movement on the net and always giving setter Karin Ojeda an option at middle. A solid jumper, and some real snap on her arm swing, she gets a high level of force on the ball on kill attempts.

High levels of versaltility and intensity drive Lexi and the Griffins team this year. There is no doubt the special bond that has emerged with these young senior ladies during their time at DC is something special. The family that has been formed over the years is visibly close. They will have a distinct advantage in the COVID shortened season to gel and get a quick start.

Lexi hopes to play volleyball in college, somewhere South. Any team would be lucky to get this super spirited and warm hearted leader that makes her teammates better every time she hits the floor…

Here is our interview with Ms. Franzyshen…

Tell us a bit about yourself, Lexi?

Hi! My name is Lexi Franzyshen and I am currently a senior attending Donovan Catholic High School in Toms River. I am graduating this upcoming June, class of 2021! I am from Toms River and live with my mom and dad, little sister, Ella, and our golden retriever puppy, Miley.

Miley Franzyshen – Mascot

How long have you played volleyball and what inspired you to take up volleyball initially?

I have been playing volleyball for seven years. In sixth grade, I was playing softball and running cross country. My grade school, St. Joseph’s Grade School introduced a new sport, volleyball. I was so excited to try it out with a few friends and immediately fell in love with the sport.

Boys Varsity Lacrosse - Donovan Catholic High School - Toms River, New  Jersey - Lacrosse - Hudl

What are your metrics/details? Height, vertical, position, club team, etc. What’s your favorite position to play?

I am 5’5 (and 3/4). My vertical reach was measured at around 9’2 and 1/4 inches during the season. I play middle and outside for Donovan Catholic and OCVBC 18 Nationals. I’m obviously very short for a middle hitter but I love the challenge of going against girls who are much taller than me. Any position I am thrown into is fun and exciting especially when I get to play defense in the back row. 

Tell us about your Griffin teammates. Who do you expect will be this year’s standout and up and coming players?

We are so lucky to have such an amazing and talented group representing the Griffins volleyball program. The strength we have together as a team is incredible and the bond we have both on and off the court cannot be matched. My fellow seniors are a group of girls with amazing abilities and my hope is that we are able to showcase this talent one more time. Freshman, Shantel Starling, is definitely going to be one of the girls to watch this season. Her ability at such a young age is insane and I can’t wait to be on a team with her again for the first time since 2017. 

The 2019 Donovan Catholic Griffins

You had a super solid season last year as a junior. What are your goals for the high school Spring session?

My goal is always to improve in any and all aspects I can. I would love to exceed my stats in every area (kills, blocks, digs, aces) even with the shortened season we will have due to Covid. 

Karin Ojeda and Lexi Franzyshen go to work on the block for Donovan Catholic

Tell us about your experience at OCVBC?

I have been playing for OCVBC since I was in 8th grade and this year will be my 5th club season with them. Club is what really made me a stronger player with different teammates and coaches that helped me to progress as a player each season. I am so grateful for the friendships I have made with girls outside of Donovan. The tournament aspect of volleyball is a completely different game, from non-stop exciting games, to passing out in the hotel room as soon as the days over. I wouldn’t want to experience this with any other club. Thank you to OCVBC for making me into the player I am today.   

Lexi and teammate Chrysta Robertson

Who inspires you?

I am very fortunate to have two loving and extremely supportive parents. They would do anything they could to help me achieve my dreams. Teammates who have gone on to play in college and continue their passion for the sport also inspire me. 

NJP considers you as one of the top players in the state. Do you plan on playing volleyball in college and if so which schools are you considering?

I am absolutely considering playing in college, but I am still undecided as to where I will be attending next fall.

Lexi puts up a big block on Kate Stoughton of Brick Memorial

Do you enjoy beach volleyball or are you a hard court specialist?

Beach volleyball has always been more of a fun way for me to get touches. My passion for volleyball definitely rests on an actually volleyball court. 

Who is your support group? (Mom and Dad? (“They love shout outs so don’t hesitate if appropriate”), brothers, sisters, friends?)

My parents have been my biggest support group with everything I do. When volleyball became a passion of mine, watching and cheering me on became one of theirs. I know that after a game I might not feel too great about, or after my best game yet, they will be their every step of they way. I love you Mom and Dad, thank you for everything you do for me, don’t know what I’d do without you!! <3

What is your favorite volleyball story?

A volleyball story I like to remember is actually when I got cut from my seventh grade volleyball team. I was completely heartbroken even thought I had only played one previous season. I was one of the only girls to be cut and the only one of my friends. This experience made me work 10x harder and is actually what made me join club the following year. I came back in the spring of eight grade after having one club season under my belt and made the team as a six rotation starter. 

What are your other hobbies or interests?

I love to ski in the winter and go boating in the summer. My family and I take trips to Vermont each year and also take boat trips to different places like Ocean City and Long Beach Island.

Is there a teacher or coach who really helped you along the way that you would like to recognize here?

All of my coaches have helped me improve in one way or another and I am extremely grateful for all of them. Coach Nina Pace was the varsity coach at my grade school and I have been playing for her since eighth grade. She is also the current JV head coach and varsity assistant coach at Donovan Catholic. I am so happy I was able to be taught by Coach Nina for all these years. She was there to watch me grow as a player and improve my skill. Thank you so much Coach Nina for always believing in me and pushing me to my limits because you knew I could always do better. 

Ella, Lexi and Miley hit the beach…

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