By Taylor Fortney
Big12 Campus Corrospondent
Many players who spend time waiting on an opportunity eventually seek the spotlight, eager to perform and earn recognition.
Lauren Douglass is not that player.
The Texas Tech volleyball athlete got her first game time in her third season, after redshirting her freshman year, and sitting out a year after transferring from Ole Miss. And she isn’t taking this time for granted.
“It was really hard to sit the bench after I transferred because I wasn’t released,” Douglass said. “But it definitely made me appreciate it a lot more since I waited two years. But I was just so ready to start playing. I just feel really blessed in my situation because I ended up where I was supposed to be.”
And while many players look to the bright lights of the games, Douglass points to the practice and development time that she has learned to take advantage of and view positively.
“Some days it can be a real grind and days are long,” Douglass said. “There are a lot of practice hours, and lifting weights, and it’s easy to look at the negatives about it. But like I said, I appreciate it a lot more, and I feel so lucky to even have an opportunity to play collegiate volleyball.”
An opportunity that was born out of patience, Douglass made sure to make use of her time while waiting to become eligible.
“Even if you don’t play, you can always encourage your teammates,” Douglass said. “And you can give them pointers in games if you see anything. That can help them, and any shots they can take you can help them with. It also really helped my volleyball IQ. Because I wasn’t able to play in games, I could observe more and practice more of my techniques.”
The practice has paid off.
Through 17 games this season, Douglass has played in all 64 sets, is second on the team with 172 kills, and leads the Red Raiders in attacking percentage (.330). Her attacking percentage ranks up top with the best of the conference, in seventh place heading into this week’s set of matches.
Despite not seeking the lime-light, her performance has garnered attention. Douglass has already been named the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week (Sept. 1) and Co-Rookie of the Week (Sept. 22), as well as the MVP of the Lone Star Showdown.
But even then, she quickly moves the attention to her team.
“It feels amazing,” Douglass said. “Not only was I able to play my first college matches this season, but I got those awards, and I wouldn’t have been able to do it without my team. I think it’s awesome.”
Texas Tech head coach Don Flora is quick to point out the effort Douglass exhibits as the reason for her success.
“Lauren continues to develop and it is nice to see her hard work get rewarded,” Flora said following her second Big 12 award.
Douglass’ success has indeed helped the Red Raiders. Despite being picked last in the Big 12 preseason poll, the Red Raiders got off to their best start since 1996 earlier this season (12-0) and currently sit 14-3 overall and 2-3 in conference play.
Tech has already matched last year’s win total and looks to continue that success heading into the final 10 contests of the season.
"Lauren's hard work over the last year has paid off," Flora said. "This is not only a sign of our team's development, but also a sign of Lauren just being focused on the tasks involved with being a quality middle blocker. This is great for our program."
Douglass agrees and again points to her teammates and the success the Red Raiders have experienced.
"I just think that we have a lot of good talent on our team this year,” Douglass said. “Our whole team is so focused on one goal. We are all in it together, and there is not one person who doesn't believe we can go all the way to the NCAA tournament. I am just happy to be a part of it. I love my teammates.”