Former Holy Trinity all-stater has Grand View in national tournament.

Emily Box hasn't skipped a beat.

Box, a three-time first team all-state hitter for the Holy Trinity Catholic High School volleyball team, made a seamless transition to the college level.

Box, who led the Crusaders to a Class 1A state runner-up finish in 2018, has helped the Grand View University women's volleyball team to an appearance in the NAIA National Championship, which get under way Tuesday at the Tyson Events Center in Sioux City.

Box, one of the state's top middle hitters last fall, leads the 13th-ranked Vikings in hitting, averaging 2.99 kills per set as an outside hitter. The Vikings are 26-10 and are hitting their peak at just the right time.

Not surprisingly, Box has led the way, much as she did for four years at Holy Trinity.

"It's been going pretty well. At the beginning of the year we hit a little bit of a rough spot. We won our first three matches, then went through a little rough stretch," Box said. "Here at the end of the season we've all come together. We are united and we want to end our season strong. We won most of our matches in three sets at the end of the season when it matters most."

Box came to the Des Moines campus in early summer to work with senior setter Trystin Luneckas, the Heart of America Conference's Setter of the Year. With Box moving from the middle to the outside, she had to make several adjustments in her approach to the game. Through a lot of hard work and repetition, Box was able to earn first team all-conference honors, as well as Co-Freshman of the Year honors.

"I came over here to work with her for about three weeks before our first match. Trystin is a great setter. She is just amazing," Box said. "It's been a big adjustment. In high school I played middle hitter, but coming her I knew they wanted me to be an outside hitter. The blocks are a lot bigger and the players are faster. Everything about the game is a lot more elite than in high school. You can't just walk into the game thinking you are going to beat the other teams. We don't play any bad teams. All of these teams are full of players who were the best players for their high school."

Box has seen more action at outside than she would have in the middle. She has 412 kills this season, tops on the team. It has worked out well for Box and the Vikings.

"If you are out of system or the ball isn't where the setter wants it, the ball is going to go to the outside," Box said. "I'm getting more sets than I expected to. It's nice to know that they trust me enough to get me the ball. It's a pressure situation for a freshman, but I love it."

Box, who is majoring in accounting and business finance, credits her high school coaches with helping her develop as an athlete and a person.

"All three of my coaches — Melissa (Freesmeier), Michael (Sheerin) and Tony (Johnson) — helped me grow as a player to become a college athlete," Box said. "Melissa turned me into the player I am now. I can't thank her enough for pushing me as hard as she did. She gave me the confidence to go out and play against the best players and teams in the state."