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Slaught signs with Slovenian championship squad

Throughout most of his life, 22-year-old men's volleyball player Alex Slaught has been close to everything.

The La Cañada Flintridge resident took the short trek to Los Angeles Loyola High for his preparatory education before attending and graduating from USC this spring with a bachelor's degree in policy, planning and developing.

About the farthest Slaught personally drove was to Manhattan Beach to play for his club team, Surfside Volleyball.

All that will change in August as Slaught signed a contract with ACH Volleyball, a professional men's volleyball team located in Ljubljana, Slovenia.

"It's been pretty surreal, honestly," Slaught said. "I think the best way to describe that is to say that all the hard work is finally paying off. It's kind of been a dream of mine to play professionally.

"To sign a contact and see that dream become a reality, I'm just soaking it all in."

ACH is a member of the Slovenian League and won the league title in 2016, marking the 12th consecutive year the squad has accomplished the feat. The team finished second in the Slovenian Cup, losing, 3-1, to Calcit Kamnik in the title match.

ACH also captured the Middle European Volleyball Zonal Assn. Championship this season and is a member of the European Volleyball Confederation.

When asked about his knowledge of Slovenia, Slaught said he was doing his best to familiarize himself with the region and its language.

"I don't speak a lick of Slovenian, so I've been going to Google Translate and trying to learn some basic words," Slaught said. "I know what 'bathroom' is and how to ask, 'what time is it?' I guess what I like most is that it's going to be a great experience and I've looking forward to learning something that I've never been exposed to."

While ACH is certainly an accomplished European team, Slaught heads east with plenty of accolades, as well.

The 6-foot-4, 190-pound outside hitter was selected captain his senior year at USC and played in 24 of his team's 27 matches and was second on the squad with 86 sets.

Slaught finished No. 2 on the team with 206 kills (2.40 kills per game) along with 98 digs, 27 blocks and 21 aces. He was one of the few bright spots on a Trojans squad that concluded 2016 with a 7-19 record.

His junior year, Slaught was named an All-Mountain Pacific Sports Federation honorable mention. Entering USC, Slaught was a highly-touted prep recruit out of Loyola and was named an American Volleyball Coaches Assn. and a Volleyball Magazine first-team All-American.

As for how exactly a Southern California volleyball player managed to grab the attention of a Slovenian champion, Slaught said he reached out to members of the USC volleyball pipeline.

"After finishing up with USC, my coaches walked me through the necessary steps it would take to turn pro," Slaught said. "I reached out to USC alumni who had played professionally in the past and I was put in touch with an agent who helped professional players."

Agent Bane Mitrovic, who's based out of Belgrade, Serbia, pitched Slaught to several teams with ACH drawing the most interest.

"Throughout my career at USC, I knew that playing professional could be a possibility," Slaught said. "Once the season ended, I just decided to go for it and I wanted to see if it could happen."

As for his international traveling experience, Slaught has some, having visited Spain and Ireland when he was 12, while venturing to South Korea last year to take part in the World University Games.

Even so, Slaught is excited to break out of Southern California.

"It's all definitely starting to set in that I'm not going to be in the little bubble I've called home for my entire life," Slaught said. "I'm pretty excited. Los Angeles and La Cañada are all I've known for the last 22 years, so I'm looking forward to growing as a person and a volleyball player and learning some new things about myself."

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