Megan Carlson, one of Andover’s all-time standout volleyball players, is playing her first professional season of volleyball in Denmark.
The two-time All-State honoree and 2008 Andover graduate led Marshall University in digs and aces in her lone season before transferring back to Minnesota.
Carlson graduated from Concordia University, St. Paul in 2012 after helping the Golden Bears win three NCAA Division II national titles, was a three-time All-American and was named to three NCAA All-Tournament teams. She earned several Northern Sun Conference honors including the 2011 NSIC Player of the year and 2011 NCAA Central Region Player of the Year.
Carlson signed on to play with the Copenhagen-based Lyngby Volleyball Club, which plays in the top Danish elite league.
The team finished fifth in the regular season standings of the eight-team league and has six games left in the playoffs, which conclude April 7.
Her club plays against the three other bottom clubs for a consolation title. They play two rounds of best-of-five series to determine a champion.
She was voted captain before the season and has played a dominating role as an outside hitter.
Lyngby scored a preseason upset to win the KnaleCuppen in Boras, Sweden. Carlson was the top scorer in the tournament.
“It put a mark on our team for the season and made other teams respect us more,” Carlson said.
But it wasn’t all grand as the team lost its other American outside hitter to a calf injury for two months.
Danish journalist Morten Piil named Carlson to his mid-season all-star team just before Christmas.
“The rest of us spectators are all thinking to ourselves that Lyngby’s playoff berth walks hand-in-hand with the team’s leader [Carlson],” he said.
Carlson leads the team in kills and digs.
The biggest adjustment on the court for Carlson came from the level of play.
“It isn’t as high as the United States or the college program I came from but it is on its way to become stronger,” Carlson said.
Another surprise was the range in ages of those playing professionally from 16 to 27, she said.
European fans are known for being boisterous in their allegiance to a home team, but that hasn’t exactly transferred from the soccer stadiums to the volleyball arenas.
“The fans can be intense in big games and TV matches but coming from a high level college I dealt with many worse fans in college,” she said. “The soccer fans in Europe are very dedicated and can be aggressive, but that’s not always the case with volleyball.”
While Carlson doesn’t know how many seasons she’ll play professionally, she knows coaching and staying in the game in some capacity is her ultimate goal.
She hopes to go to a graduate school and work as a graduate assistant for a college program. “Then I’m hoping that will lead me into the college coaching field I’m wanting to get into,” Carlson said.
One of the perks of playing professional volleyball in Europe is the travel on weekends away from the court. Since August, Carlson has visited Spain, France, Amsterdam and London and plans to visit Dublin, Ireland, and Italy once the season is over in April. “Half of the reason for wanting to play overseas was to travel and I have gotten to do that,” Carlson said.
While Danish is a difficult language to learn, the Danes are taught English in school so the language barrier isn’t too bad.
“I’ve learned little words here and there and how to count to 10,” Carlson said.
Carlson is one of four Americans on the club along with Ijeoma Moronu, setter (Abilene Christian University); Caitlyn Jewell, middle hitter (Colorado State University, Pueblo) and Natalia Gonzalez, outside hitter (California State University, Los Angeles). She lives with Moronu and Jewell.