Lisa Pikalek is a name you may have a foggy recollection of.
It’s like the elusive answer on an episode of Jeopardy that is so patently obvious once stated that you scream, “I knew it!”, even though you clearly didn’t.
Pikalek is a familiar name because it’s prominently displayed alongside other Tech greats in Cassell Coliseum. She played volleyball for the Hokies as soon as she arrived on campus in 1989. Despite being just 5’9″, Pikalek became a giant in Hokie sports and was just the sixth athlete in Virginia Tech history to be honored with a retired number following their playing career.
Pikalek holds most of Tech’s records, and still owns a few of those marks by a wide margin. She holds the career mark for kills with 2,270. That leads the next closest player by 658. She also holds the record for kills per set over a career with 4.39. The next closest is 3.63.
This is one small section of the Virginia Tech record book that shows Pikalek’s true dominance when it came to kills in particular.
Pikalek owns six out of the top seven kills records in Virginia Tech history, recording more than 30 kills in all seven instances, while notching 35 or more kills in five of her top six records. Pikalek still holds the record for most kills in Virginia Tech volleyball history, with her 38 kills against Southern Mississippi in November of 1992 still standing to this day.
During her career, the Hokies won 94 games—an average of 23.5 wins per season. The team won 28 games in 1991 and finished second in the Metro conference. They backed that performance up with an 11-game winning streak en route to 26 wins in 1992 when they tied for first place in the Metro.
Tech was dominant at home during that stretch, posting a 21-4 record in Cassell Coliseum.
Pikalek was the focal point and she was recognized for her gaudy numbers. She was a four-time All-Metro conference selection and received equal attention for academics. She earned a 3.9 GPA and was a three-time Academic All-American in addition to being selected as the GTE Academic All-American of the Year in 1992.
Lisa Pikalek was inducted into the Virginia Tech sports hall of fame in 2004 and at the time of her jersey retirement, she was just the second Tech woman to be so honored.
Though lesser known than most of the other Tech legends hanging in the rafters, Pikalek’s legacy is one of impressive performance in the classroom and on the court. She’s nearly impossible to match in terms of excellence in both pursuits.
Her example is one to be aspired towards. Sometimes the true stars shine just out of the spotlight.