After winning the NESCAC championship last season, the women’s volleyball team (8–7; 4–3 NESCAC) is working toward another title. However, after four pivotal seniors graduated last year, other players have been called on to step up, including middle hitter Lauren Lange ’24. Lange has led the team in kills this season.
Inspired by her older sister, who plays volleyball at Dickinson College, Lange began her journey when she was 12. She credits her sister for igniting her passion for the sport.
“I’ve always wanted to mirror [my sister’s] intensity and her passion for volleyball. She taught me how to be competitive in a good way and how to really have passion for the sport,” Lange said.
Among the tallest players on her middle school team, Lange started her volleyball career as a middle hitter—a position that focuses on blocking and hitting at the net—and has continued to thrive in the position despite no longer being the tallest on the court.
“I really loved the position. I was one of those kids that hit my growth spurt early on, so I’m not as tall now compared to some of these other middle hitters that are over six foot. It doesn’t really matter,” Lange said.
On the court, Lange relies on the automatic motions ingrained in her during practices, the game plan decided by her coach and the instructions shouted out by her teammates. She leaves all her thinking for practice, so when it’s game time, she can approach each hit with a clear mind.
“The key is to really think of nothing,” Lange said. “If I think of something, I’m going to mess up. The good thing about volleyball is it’s so fast and you don’t have time to think.”
After being encouraged by her high school coach, Lange began to look into college volleyball. She was not planning on playing at the collegiate level because she wanted academics to come first. However, when she started to look into liberal art schools, she saw collegiate volleyball as an opportunity to create community and build friendships—both things she has been able to accomplish during her time at Bowdoin.
“What really stood out to me was how friendly everyone on the team was, and it was a very successful team, which was important to me,” Lange said. “I felt very welcomed immediately. I thought this is the place that I wanted to be.”
One of Lange’s favorite game day traditions is the team’s pregame dance party, where LED lights adorn the walls of the locker room and the team comes together to dance.
“It gets you warm for the game, but it also makes everyone relaxed, and it’s a good bonding activity before every game,” Lange said.
This team spirit elevated Bowdoin in their win against Hamilton College (7–5; 2–4 NESCAC) on October 7, which ended up being Lange’s favorite match this season.
After dropping two sets to start the game, Bowdoin mounted a 3–2 comeback win, and Lange earned 17 kills, her most kills in a single match to date. But the game was more than a personal best; Lange believes the match showcased the team’s ability to rise above adversity. The team had to fight for each point.
“I think we were all exhausted by the end of the match but were very proud of ourselves. I think that was a turning point of our season because we know that we can win and that we can be the best in the NESCAC,” Lange said.
It was also a match in which the team had to rely on each other, something Lange believes is easy to do with her teammates.
“I can just look at my teammates or look at the bench that’s always super energetic and get confidence in myself. I can relax and breathe,” Lange said.
Lange is most looking forward to the Dig Pink fundraiser tonight in Morrell Gymnasium. The annual event, which Lange planned with some of her teammates, will fundraise money to fight breast cancer and support breast cancer survivors.
With only a little more than two weeks left in the season, Lange is confident in her team’s ability to succeed, face more conference play and make the NESCAC championship.
“We have a really strong defense and a great setter, [Ella Haugen ’23]. Those are the two key components that we need in order to run our middles,” Lange said. “I’m really excited for the next couple weeks and to hopefully upset a couple of NESCAC teams.”