Q&A With Erika Lange
Sept. 10, 2003
Northwestern senior volleyball player was named the September 8th Co-Big Ten player of the week following an outstanding performance at the Chicago Challenge. Lange was named the tournament MVP after compiling a .529 hit percentage, averaging 5.3 kills per game, and totaling 11 blocks, nine digs, and one assist over the three matches. The Wildcats defeated Loyola-Chicago, Ole Miss, and UIC without dropping a game on the way to becoming tournament champs. Lange, a Chicago area native, is an All-American candidate for the 2003 season. Last year, Lange became the first Northwestern player since 1984 to be named to the All-Big Ten team. She also led the Wildcats in kills (4.27 per game), blocks (171), and hitting percentage (.343) last season. Her play as a junior helped lead the Wildcats to their first NCAA tournament appearance in nearly 20 years. Here is how Erika answered some of our questions on choosing Northwestern, what it means to be an All-Big Ten selection, and what she expects from the Wildcats this year.
You're from Orland Park, why did you choose to stay close to home?
I chose Northwestern because it was the school I really wanted to go to, for athletic and educational reasons. I didn't really chose it because of its location, but I do appreciate the fact that it is close enough for my family to come and watch me play a lot. It is close to Chicago and I wanted to be near a big city.
You have started most of your career matches at Northwestern, how will that help you in your senior season?
The experience playing in the Big Ten will really help me. It is one of the strongest volleyball conferences in the country. Every night you, as a player, face the best competition. Having the experience of playing against the toughest opponents for the past three years will help me as I look to succeed this season.
In 2002, you were named to three all-tournament teams, what do you contribute your consistency to?
That is a testament to how our team has improved. It just shows that we played consistent volleyball for three tournaments in a row and played at a high level. For a middle to play well, everyone on the team has to be playing well and provide opportunities.
What did it mean to you to be Northwestern's first All-Big Ten player since 1984?
It was a huge honor for me to be named to the All-Big Ten team last season. I came to Northwestern with the knowledge that the program had not been doing so well and wanted to help make it a program that would contend for championships.
You have led the Wildcats over the past three years in many categories, how did you become such an all-around player?
The biggest reason is that I strive to be a consistent player. I know that I have to go into every game with the desire to do the best that I can and provide my team with the best opportunity to win. As long as I do those things, the numbers will follow suit. I spend a lot of time in practice perfecting those skills and with players behind me looking to take my position, I work harder to keep my numbers up. Keylor (Chan) pushes me to keep on top of my game, so I focus on that stuff.
Last year was the first time in nearly 20 years Northwestern was in the NCAA tournament, and, although the team fell in the first round, how will that experience help the '03 squad?
In the past, a huge roadblock for this program was just making it into the NCAA Tournament. Last season, we made it through that obstacle and now that we know we can do it, it takes a little bit of the pressure off. At the same time it also adds pressure. We have more expectations to live up to and goals to reach. I think it is a huge motivating factor and a tradition that we want to build on.
At the end of the 2002 season, you guys lost a couple of really close games, does that motivate or change the outlook of this year's team at all?
That definitely motivates us, because we are learning how to finish games. I think the biggest difference between this year's squad and last year's squad is that we will be winning those close matches. We have been putting in extra work at practice to make sure that all of those little things that went wrong last season are corrected