Senior Lauren Stiles returns for she fourth season on the Willamette volleyball team this year. She has registered 311 total career kills, averaging 1.35 kills per set and have an average of 2.23 digs per set, with 514 total career digs.
When asked about her goal for their last year playing volleyball at WU, she said the following: “My goal is to take conference. This team is incredibly talented and has the capability to upset teams that have held top spots for years.” Lauren thinks that this year will be special because the first-years are already bonding well with the rest of the team. “Our team this year is full of new energy. We have had a great first couple of matches, including a five-set match against a ranked team, which is very exciting. Our chemistry is already incredible, which means we have an amazing potential to keep growing together, more than teams that have already established themselves.”
Unfortunately, Stiles hasn’t been able to compete in league matches with the team yet this season due to an injury. Because of this, Stiles gives credit for creating the team’s chemistry to senior Jenifer Lane. “My best friend Jennifer Lane, the other senior on the team, is an amazing leader and has shown these first years what being a Bearcat athlete is all about.”
Stiles has always had a fiery competitive spirit. In high school, she earned First Team All-League and MVP honors at Flintridge Preparatory School in California. Stiles said that they knew she had both the competitive drive and the love of sports that is currently pushing her towards winning the conference since the age of four. “I knew I loved to compete since I played AYSO soccer at the age of four. My dad told me that he would never forget my face after my first game that said, ‘Wait, this is a thing people do?’ Competition has been in my blood.”
When asked how the WU community can help the volleyball team going forward, Stiles responded with the following: “The WU community has always been a huge supporter of Willamette volleyball. Attendance at home games is one of the best in our conference and we expect nothing less this season. Get HYPED.” Stiles also wanted to give a big thank you to the whole WU community for supporting the team for these past few years. “I want to say thank you for the support over the last three years. The teachers have been incredibly understanding and supportive of athletics. The student body has gone above and beyond in supporting our team and other athletic events. Thank you is all I have to say.”
The volleyball team’s next home game is on Wednesday, Sep. 18 against Linfield. Make sure to be there to support Stiles and the rest of the team!