Marie Lowell aces Wildcat Athlete of the Week

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Photo by Leslie Fireman

Future Middle Tennessee State University volleyball player Marie Lowell is the Wildcat Chronicle’s Athlete of the Week.

By Chuck Baumgartner, Sports Editor

On January 26, senior Marie Lowell took a major step toward one of her long-term goals: to play Division I volleyball. News of the athlete’s commitment to Middle Tennessee State University spread quickly around West Chicago Community High School students’ social media feeds as followers reposted Marie’s news and congratulated her on the achievement.

Although Marie claims she was hesitant to try out for volleyball six years ago, in doing so, she found her true passion; her supporters believe Marie has demonstrated leadership traits in the first chapter of what many believe will be a very adventurous life.

Ava (left) and Marie Lowell (right) on picture day at the start of the 2021-22 volleyball season. (Photo by Marie Lowell)

This winter, Marie had a strong season, stacking up accolades and a stat sheet that caught the eye of several colleges across the nation. Marie was the captain of the Varsity volleyball team this season.  She helped lead a 24-9 record and placed second in the conference with a record of 8-1. This season Marie totaled 421 digs, 311 service receptions, 51 assists, 41 aces, and 3 kills. Lowell also racked up honors, including:

  • All DuPage-Area Honorable Mention 
  • Upstate Eight All-Conference 
  • Honorable Mention, News-Gazette’s All-State Team

Marie also dominated in the classroom, receiving Upstate Eight Academic All-Conference recognition, and earning high honor roll for the first semester of her senior year. Marie is equally active in extracurricular activities outside of volleyball, participating in the National Honor Society, and serving as a member of Pep Club.

For Marie, though, her last season was significant for another reason: “Being able to play with my sister senior year.”

The sentiment is evidently shared. Sophomore Ava Lowell said of her sister, “She is a leader on the court. [Marie is] nice to look up to her, and since we are siblings, we had more of a connection on the court.”

The court connection was notable, as Marie and Ava were the top 2 in digs for the Wildcats this season, totaling 580 digs on the season. 

Angela Lowell, Marie and Ava’s mother, said, “Watching both of them play on the court this year was so much fun! They have both been playing volleyball for so long, but this was the first year that they ever played together on the same team. Every time they ran out on the court for the games, my heart was full and so proud of them both! They both work really hard, and watching Marie pass the ball to her sister for a winning hit is something very special to me.”

For the Lowell family, those special moments are several years in the making: Marie started playing volleyball in seventh grade at Leman Middle School after Angela convinced her eldest daughter her to try out for the team after numerous years of soccer. After the first season, Marie claims she fell in love with the sport. She continued to play ICE club volleyball after her debut season in seventh grade, then Team One in Aurora.

Marie plays libero, which according to a Ken Shibuya of USA Volleyball, “must have a presence, must lead and initiate, and must make others on the floor better.”

Based on comments from coaches and teammates, Marie, who idolizes former Stanford libero Morgan Hentz, is the ideal fit for this crucial position. 

Marie Lowell prepares to dig for the ball at a WEGO volleyball game next to her sister Ava. (Photo by Marie Lowell)

Varsity head coach Pam Pater said, “Marie is a coach’s dream.  She is our eyes and ears on the court, she comes in every day ready to make herself and her teammates better.  She is energetic, hard-working, and full of talent.  And most importantly, a great teammate.  When it comes to Marie, everything begins and ends with the team, she wants her team to be successful no matter what.  Being a varsity volleyball player in the program requires a lot of time and energy, Marie had zero hesitation and came in with a smile on her face ready to do whatever is required.  Replacing people like Marie is going to be a very difficult task, I am hoping our younger girls learn from her, and are ready to carry that torch for future seasons.”

“I truly enjoyed watching her play. She was a vocal leader on the court and played her heart out. Hearing that she was coming back to play senior year was the best news,” said Varsity girls’ assistant coach Regina Pauli.

Lowell is also highly praised by teammates. Senior Varsity volleyball players Kaila Palczinski and Natalie Larson said in a group interview, “She’s very hard-working, always has a good attitude, she is relentless when it comes to defense and always getting a touch on the ball and very enthusiastic.”

“Honestly, she was an amazing and very skilled player. Always uplifting and in a positive mood. She knew how every player played and adjusted accordingly to benefit the team. One of the best players I’ve ever seen play on varsity. I have high hopes for the varsity team and I hope the future libero’s will follow in Marie’s steps in being a great leader,” said Varsity volleyball manager and senior Tyler Nelson.

Marie plays with junior hitter Brianna Gromos at both WEGO and Team One. Gromos described Marie as “the heart of the team, and said Marie “brings everyone together. A very good player, and valid on the aux.”

Marie Lowell with teammate Brianna Gromos at a Team One match. (Photo by Marie Lowell)

Marie’s commitment to playing Division I college volleyball at Middle Tennessee State University marks the beginning of a new opportunity: Marie says she is excited to play Division I volleyball, a goal of hers since eighth grade. She plans study chemistry, although she said, “it may be subject to change.”

Whatever Marie decides, her mother, Angela, is “beyond excited for Marie as she continues to play volleyball at Middle Tennessee State University.  Playing at this level is something Marie was very focused to achieve. This journey has been tough, and filled with lots of wins, as well as disappointments, but Marie was able to stay focused and learn from it all. I always tell her that you grow through what you go through. She is an amazing student athlete and I am so excited for what her future will bring.”