Demos has made quite an impact on the 15th-ranked UC San Diego Women's
Volleyball team in her first year. Not only has the 6-1 middle blocker
started all 23 matches for the 19-4 Tritons, she
is third on the squad with 150 kills, has recorded 17 aces and leads
the team in both solo blocks (11) and block assists (62). "I wasn't
really planning on Lauren starting this year but she rose to the top in
pre-season, has stayed consistent and continued
to improve weekly," says Head Coach Ricci Luyties. "She has a 'never
quit mentality' and her court presence helps get the team going. She's
definitely not playing like a freshman anymore." With the final three
regular season games on tap this week and the
post-season looming, the Newport Beach native spent some time talking
about her team, the transition from high school to college volleyball
and what the future might hold for the Tritons.
team has won its last nine matches in a row. In your opinion, what have
been the strengths of the team over these past four weeks?
have been practicing in a game-like manner and have come to realize
that we can't have a "light-switch" mentality and turn it on when it is
game time. We are investing time
in goal setting, team chemistry, and the individual responsibility of
giving all that you can give to the team each day; those intangible
things have been our strengths in the past weeks. We have done a great
job of implementing them in the gym each day at
practice in an effort to carry them over to game time.
Q-This latest winning streak came on the heels of a stretch where the team lost four times in a five-match span. What changed?
we were at Cal State East Bay a few weeks ago, we were down 2-0 and
nothing was clicking. All of a sudden we recognized that we weren't
smiling and having fun. We were playing
like six individuals rather than a cohesive unit. Although it was hard
at first, we pasted smiles on our faces and really focused on playing
with enthusiasm, playing for each other, and taking care of our side of
the net. We came back to win that match and
we haven't lost since. One of our main focuses has become our chemistry
and the atmosphere when we are playing, and when we all buy into having
fun, great things have been happening!
indicators point towards UCSD being invited to the NCAA West Regionals
in two weeks. What are your feelings as the playoffs become more of a
am so excited! We have worked very hard to put ourselves in a great
position for Regionals. I still don't think that this team has peaked
yet and I believe that our best volleyball
is still ahead of us.
When we are playing together and playing with a
purpose we are a force to be reckoned with. I honestly believe that we
have a shot at winning Regionals. That being said, as a freshman this is
all new to me and although I love the the thrill
of a "do or die" bracket, I would be lying if I said that I wasn't a
bit nervous too.
Roxie Brunsting told me once that we can always have
confidence in how hard we work, and because the team has worked so hard
this season, we can go into Regionals confident that we have what it
a freshman, what has been the biggest adjustment you've had to make
moving from club/high school volleyball to the collegiate level?
am very thankful that I came from programs at Laguna Beach VBC and
Newport Harbor that were fast, rigorous, and competitive on the national
scale; they prepared me as much
as it was possible for making the jump to the collegiate level.
However, I still had to make an adjustment to the system that Coach
Luyties runs and the technical details of my game that needed to be
changed in order to fit into that system. My footwork paths,
spacing with the setters, and blocking movements, for example, needed
to be adjusted in order to mesh with the way that the returners played.
It is an ongoing process but I am pleased with how I have adjusted thus
Q-Your first day of practice at UCSD, what was your biggest surprise?
first day of practice started off with a running test that I had been
training for for weeks in the summer time. As much as I attempted to
prepare, there is nothing quite
like seeing Coach with a stopwatch and lining up next to your teammates
on the end line with your stomach in knots and adrenaline pumping. It
was rough, as most conditioning tests are, but what surprised me the
most was the immense encouragement, and support
that I felt from my teammates whom I hardly knew at that point. The
girls were full of Bible verses of encouragement, pats on the back, and
phrases to fire me up. As the new kid on the block, I expected there to
be a gap between me and the returners; I expected
to have to pass that test on my own. I quickly came to find out that I
wouldn't have to do anything alone again, these girls were always going
to be by my side.
you and another true freshman, Amber Hawthorne, have stepped right into
the starting lineup. How has that chemistry with the upperclassmen
am still amazed at how quickly Amber and I gelled with the older girls.
The chemistry has been absolutely phenomenal and I often times get the
feeling that we have all been
playing together longer than just a few short months. Granted, Amber
and I have had to work very hard to immediately perform in a collegiate
system and earn the respect of the upperclassmen, but I am proud of how
smoothly it has gone. I love nothing more than
to be out there with those girls, and I recognize the honor that it is
to be playing alongside them. I have learned so much from playing with
them; the experience that Amber and I are gaining this season will
surely help us over the next years and I am excited
to journey through my collegiate career with her.
Q-What's the most valuable lesson or advice you've received from a returning player?
five graduating seniors, I have really tried to retain every ounce of
wisdom that the older girls have given me. I have a bulletin board with
lots of quotes from my teammates
in addition to other more famous great minds. Roxie has been such a
source of knowledge for me and I value her insight immensely. It is hard
to pick her
valuable piece of advice, but she once told me, "Remember to enjoy and
love where you are at even though you are always trying to be better."
This gives me a sense of
peace and happiness in the midst of a constant uphill battle to be the
best student, player, teammate, and daughter that I can be.
Q-How does Coach Ricci Luyties compare with other coaches you've had? How has he helped your game?
Luyties is a legendary player and a phenomenal coach that I believe
really understands the workings of an athlete's mind. He gives less
feedback and lets us play through
things, allowing us to work them out on our own. The feedback that he
gives is meaningful and applicable the very next play. This instills a
sort of confidence in his players, and it is evident that he really
trusts and believes in the girls that he puts out
there. Technically, he has helped me to improve a lot in just a short
amount of time, but even more than that he is helping to instill a
confidence in myself that I haven't necessarily felt from a coach
before. It is doing wonders for my game.
Q-What is the most difficult aspect of the middle blocker position?
have always been a middle blocker and so I don't know anything
different, but it's a lot of work. Being a middle is tough physically:
you have to be up in transition on every
play and be able to read and react both vertically and laterally to the
offense on the other side in a fraction of a second. Middles usually
have less offensive attempts than a pin player, and one interesting
aspect of a middle's success is how well they can
hold the blockers so that their teammates can score. If I get up in the
air and don't get set the ball but Katie, Hillary, or Roxie only has
one blocker and gets a kill, I know that I did my job successfully! A
selfless mindset is essential to being a middle.
much "choreography" is involved in the typical collegiate volleyball
offense? Explain to the novice fan what happens once the other team
serves the ball.
setters give us hand signals prior to the serve that tell us what
specific set we are supposed to hit. Roxie and Amber do a great job of
coordinating our offense and they
always have a great plan for helping us to score. The plays that they
choose to run depend on where we start passing on the court and how we
can deceive the other team, while keeping in mind who our best weapon is
at the time.
There is usually quite a bit of crossing of hitters
and running inside or outside in order to achieve this. If the other
team gets on a serving run we usually shift around and change up the
play to give our offense a new look. However, there
is always an aspect of impromptu to an offensive play because of the
variety of the pass. Collegiate volleyball offense is quite the art, if
you ask me!
Q-What challenges have you experienced in balancing your academic responsibilities and being on the volleyball team?
was realistic with myself and knew that it was going to be difficult,
but it has been very hard to balance it all and maintain the standards
that I have set for myself. The
most difficult part is the mental fatigue. I take pride in being
"checked in" whenever I am on the court, watching video, visualizing, or
goal setting, but often times I am so mentally spent after practice or a
match that it becomes difficult to muster up
the mental fortitude to read a 20-plus page article on French art
history! My homework has to be done not just so that I can check it off
of my to-do list, but done to the very best of my ability. In essence,
you have to be on top of your mental game all day
long, both athletically and academically.
Q-Are there personal traits or skills that help with both aspects of your college life?
enthusiasm and faith have helped immensely both athletically and
academically. I feel that if you love what you are doing you are going
to do it better and more thoroughly,
no matter if it is a specific drill in practice or writing a midterm
paper. If you are joyful and enthusiastic about each task or opportunity
you are given, great things are going to happen. My Christian faith has
helped me to find purpose and joy in even
the most rudimentary tasks.
Q-You're a political science major in Roosevelt College. What has been your most interesting class during the fall quarter?
have thoroughly enjoyed my POLI 12 class: Introduction to International
Relations. that I am taking with teammate Edrina Nazaradeh. We have
been learning about the causes of
war and exploring the different political actors and political systems
that influence both interstate conflict and periods of peace. Professor
Roeder is phenomenal and has given tools that allow me to digest and
interpret the events of the current international
state through a different lens that I would have prior to this quarter.
Q-Did you play any other sports as a youngster? What got you started with volleyball and what's kept you playing?
heart has always been in volleyball. My sister Carey, who was also
played middle blocker, is nearly eight years older than me, so I started
going to club volleyball tournaments
when I was just two years old.
I did a lot of growing up on the hardwood floor of
random volleyball gyms and I always wanted to get as close to the "big
girls' bench" as I could. I wanted to be in the action and I wanted to
play. I feel like my love for the game, the sheer
thrill of competition, and the nature of the sport are innate to my
being and I couldn't imagine my life without it, but that is because I
never have had to! I started playing club in fifth grade at age 10 and
by then I already knew that I wanted to play collegiately.
It's great to think that I am living out my childhood dream!
Q-Was there ever a competitive thing between the two of you? What impact did she have on your career?
am a lot younger than Carey so we never had any competitive rifts or
went head-to-head. She has impacted my career immensely and has been
such a phenomenal role model for me
as I have grown into the person and athlete that I am today. When I was
younger I wanted to be just like her, and as I grew I strove to be even
better. I used to follow her around the house and wear her old jerseys
to tournaments. I can ask her technical questions,
vent to her and celebrate with her, and she will be completely honest
with me in all of it. She and her husband live in New York City now and
it has been very hard not having them in the stands cheering me on as I
had envisioned. I am thankful for Live Stats
and the occasional video streaming she can still have as big of an
impact on my collegiate career as she did in getting me to this point.
Q-You came from Newport Beach to La Jolla for college. What are the best things about both locales? Anything you miss from home?
California is paradise and I am very thankful that it worked out for me
to stay and go to school here. We are blessed with a fabulous ocean
view from our home in Newport
and now when I walk from RIMAC to ERC I get to experience the same awe
of the ocean's beauty.
Newport and La Jolla both boast great food and lots of
activities, which I love. Despite their similarities, I miss the
comforts of home, like my big bed, neatly folded laundry, the smell of
fresh flowers and the stocked pantry. I have been
home once since the season began and I literally kissed the hardwood
floor when I entered and ran around the house in appreciation of the
little things that I had taken for granted before. But more than
anything I miss the constant interaction with my family,
because when all of those comforts are taken away, that family
relationship becomes even more essential.
Q-When you're not playing volleyball, going to class or studying, how do you like to spend your time?
be honest, I usually take a "power nap" or head to Cafe Ventanas to
refuel my body because those three activities are so draining! In season
it is hard to have time for much
else! But I absolutely love to read. As corny as it may sound, I love
the smell of ink on the pages and the crisp edge of the paper between my
fingers. I love to escape for a little while into the world of another
character and experience a different life
through their eyes. Right now I am reading
Little Bee by Chris Cleave, which is an artfully written story
about the intertwining of the lives of a British woman and a Nigerian
refugee. I can't wait to dive back into it!
Q-What kind of potential do you think this team has moving into the NCAA Playoffs?
am confident that this team has what it takes to win Regionals and
advance into the NCAA Playoffs. I believe so much in the wisdom of our
coaches and in the physical, mental,
and emotional capabilities of these girls, that if we stay focused and
driven there isn't anything stopping us from hoisting a National
Championship banner in RIMAC. Someone is going to win the Championship
this year. Why not us?
Previous Q & A Articles
Ellen Wilson (Women's Soccer) October 1, 2011
Brian Donohoe (Men's Water Polo) September 4, 2011
Roxanne Brunsting (Women's Volleyball) August 19, 2011
Jon Pascale (Men's Soccer) August 4, 2011
Jon Pascale (Men's Soccer) August 4, 2011
Vincent Nguyen (Tennis) July 1, 2011
Patti Gerckens (Softball) May 26, 2011
Blake Tagmyer (Baseball) May 11, 2011
Theresa Richards (Women's Track & Field) April 27, 2011
Austin West (Men's Tennis) April 17, 2011
Drew Lawyer (Men's Crew) April 11, 2011
Keith Okasaki (Men's Golf) March 26, 2011
Matt Herman (Men's Swimming & Diving) March 12, 2011
Hanalei Crowell (Women's Water Polo) March 5, 2011
Camille Gaito (Softball) February 23, 2011
Tim Shibuya (Baseball) February 8, 2011
Carl Eberts (Men's Volleyball) January 31, 2011
Neda Nguyen (Women's Swimming & Diving) January 24, 2011
Amy Bianchini (Fencing) January 14, 2011
Lauren Freidenberg (Women's Basketball) January 3, 2011
Christian Hatch (Men's Basketball) December 24, 2010
Blake Langland (Men's Swimming & Diving) November 27, 2010
Sarah McTigue (Women's Soccer) November 8, 2010
Brandon Yee (Men's Soccer) October 11, 2010
Bryce Madsen (Men's Water Polo) September 23, 2010
Annette Ilg (Women's Soccer) September 9, 2010
Ricci Luyties (Women's Volleyball Head Coach) August 24, 2010
Kevin Messey (Head Athletics Trainer) July 7, 2010
Dan O'Brien (Baseball Head Coach) June 18, 2010
Christine Merrill (Women's Track & Field) June 14, 2010
Vance Albitz (Baseball) May 11, 2010
Erik Elliott (Men's Tennis) May 3, 2010
Kelly Fogarty (Women's Track & Field) April 23, 2010
Liz LaPlante (Women's Tennis Head Coach) April 15, 2010
Kirby St. John (Baseball) March 24, 2010
Dan Perdew (Men's Swimming) February 28, 2010
Calvin Ross (Men's Volleyball) February 20, 2010
Nicole Saari (Softball) February 4, 2010
Brad Kreutzkamp (Women's Water Polo Head Coach) January 18, 2010
Tyler Acevedo (Men's Basketball) January 4, 2010
Dr. Cliff Kubiak (UCSD's Faculty Athletic Rep) December 18, 2009
Chelsea Carlisle (Women's Basketball) December 9, 2009
Carianne Cunningham (Women's Swimming) November 23, 2009
Elena Inouye (Cross Country) November 6, 2009
David Morton (Men's Water Polo) October 28, 2009
Juan Pablo Carillo (Men's Swimming) October 19, 2009
Sara Spaventa (Women's Soccer) October 10, 2009
Karen Reis (Women's Volleyball) October 2, 2009
Daniel Pavitt (Men's Soccer) September 23, 2009
Daniel Anderson (Cross Country) September 11, 2009
Peter Gresham (Men's Water Polo) September 2, 2009
Alexia Zatarain (Women's Soccer) August 24, 2009
Elaine Chen (Women's Volleyball) August 12, 2009
Jared Kukura (Men's Soccer) July 30, 2009
Dawn Lee (Former Women's Soccer Standout) July 8, 2009
Rob Mamula (Director of Athletic Performance) June 18, 2009
Garrett Imeson (Baseball) June 8, 2009
Leon Baham (Men's Track & Field) May 21, 2009
Kristyn Lesovsky (Softball) May 8, 2009
Kazumi Negishi (Men's Tennis) May 5, 2009
Laiah Blue (Women's Track & Field) April 16, 2009
Ryan Andre (Men's Crew) April 2, 2009
Josh Tanner (Baseball) March 24, 2009
Anju Shimura (Women's Swimming) March 7, 2009
Stephanie Bocian (Women's Water Polo) February 20, 2009
Lauren Chastain (Softball) February 5, 2009
A.J. Maulhardt (Men's Basketball) January 28, 2009
Annette Ilg (Women's Basketball) January 22, 2009
Steven Hardy (Men's Swimming) January 13, 2009
Frank Fritsch (Men's Volleyball) January 5, 2009