Nov. 20, 2014
MILWAUKEE - Libero Lauren Houg has had a breakthrough sophomore campaign for the Marquette University women's volleyball team in 2014 after playing sparingly as a seldom-used reserve as a freshman.
The Plymouth, Minnesota, native has started every match this season at libero and sits fourth in the BIG EAST Conference with 4.52 digs per set. She has earned BIG EAST weekly honors for the first time in her career in each of the last two weeks and is averaging 6.71 digs per set in four matches over that span.
Houg recently sat down with GoMarquette.com to answer a few questions prior to Saturday's regular season finale against DePaul.
Q: What do you like about playing libero?
A: "I love being able to dig the other big hitters and kind of take something away from them, because in college they can really get up and hit. Most of the players in college were the best in high school, or in club, so it's so much fun being back there and being able to keep the plays going and dive around and lead the back row."
Q: Currently, you lead the team in digs. What does it mean to you to be able to be an impact player on the defensive side of the ball?
A: "It's really important. It means that I have to come into the gym every day ready to work and ready to push my teammates and set an example for them. It also means that I need to be ready to hold my own ground and lead the defense."
Q: What have Coach Theis and the rest of the coaching staff done to help improve you as a player, and what have they done to give you the confidence that you can be a great player for them for years to come?
A: "I think the most important thing is knowing that they have trust in me and that they can see that my teammates and I work well together on defense. Also that they can see certain parts of everyone's game that stand out. They see who can do well next to certain people and that's really important. They spent so much time with us improving our skills in the spring and now it's just about execution. At this point in the season, they're just focusing of having us execute and prepare for the coming weeks where we have to get ready for BIG EAST tournament and the NCAA tournament."
Q: What is one part of your game that you would like to improve upon for future seasons?
A: "I just want to keep getting more digs. That's what I want to improve upon. I want to get up there just like I was in high school. I want to get the most digs I can, and I want to lead the conference.
Q: Either for the team or for you personally, what are your goals, both for this season and long term?
A: "We're looking forward to going and beating DePaul on Saturday, that's first and foremost. After that, winning the BIG EAST tournament and then going further in the NCAA tournament that we have in Marquette history. From there on, I just want to keep striving for more, because I know we have the talent to do so."
Q: How has it been this year, adjusting to a new coaching staff in your sophomore season? Did you find it difficult at all or was it an easy transition?
A: "It was a very easy transition actually. We built a very good relationship with them in the spring and then we came in, in the summer ready to work in open gyms. We really stuck together as a team and that was a huge part of it, too. We recognized that we were all in it together and then in the fall we had the relationship built up and it was smooth sailing from there."
Q: Last season, when you were a freshman, what did the team do to help prove to you that Marquette was the right school for you?
A: "They really did a good job in proving that Marquette was a great school for both academics and volleyball. I wanted to go to a school where I was going to be able to excel in school and in volleyball and they did a great job of setting an example like that. They taught me the importance of striving to do well in things outside of volleyball, as well."
Q: You had a pretty dominant high school career in Minnesota and you led the state with 7.7 digs per game in your senior season. How difficult was it to adjust to playing in only five matches your freshman year, after such a great high school career?
A: "Yes, but I think every time you step on the court is a new experience and you're only as good as the last game that you played. High school is high school and I came here and I knew it was going to be totally different with a totally new kind of game play so it was a whole new goal to strive for."
Q: How difficult was it to overcome the second round loss last year to Illinois in the NCAA's, and what does the team plan on doing this year to try and get deep into this year's tournament?
A: "Our goal is to make it further than we made it last year. It's a really good goal for us to have especially since we have that bittersweet taste in our mouths after the loss to Illinois because we knew that we could beat them. So that's really what we're striving for this year."
Q: Do you have any pre-game rituals?
A: "I'm actually a very mellow pre-game person. I'm not into jumping around and getting pumped. We have our pregame meal and my parents are usually in town so we usually just sit down and relax with a cup of coffee. I don't like to get super pumped up, I'd rather just stay chill."
Q: What type of music do you listen to?
A: "I listen to all kinds of music. I'm a big country person, but I can listen to anything."
Q: Who is your biggest inspiration?
A: "Both of my parents. They've sacrificed so much for me to get to this point in my life and I just want to be like that when I'm older. That's another big goal for me. I want to do for my children what my parents have done for me. They have definitely been my biggest inspiration throughout this whole journey."
Q: What is your dream job?
A: "Definitely being a teacher. That's been my dream job since I was little, and it's what I'm in school for now. Teaching in an elementary school is my dream job, and I'm really excited about that."