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Over The Net: A Mizzou Volleyball Interview Series - Lauren Forbes

I sat down with libero Lauren Forbes to talk about Mizzou Volleyball, anesthesiology, and axe throwing

Mizzou Athletics

Welcome back to Over The Net, the weekly interview series with players and coaches from Mizzou Volleyball that’s taking place over the next few months.

Week One, I talked with Cullen Irons, assistant volleyball coach.

Last week, I talked with outside hitter Janet deMarrais.

This week, I talked with Lauren Forbes, the junior libero who also specializes in serving. She is a health science major and Missouri native who had an unusual start to her college career.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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Let’s start with the last match against Arkansas. What are some of the things you think the team did well, and what does the team need to work on heading into the next match?

LF: I think we did a great job of serve-and-pass. We had some really great block touches, which allowed our defense to make some great moves as well. As far as something that we can continue to work on, just finding those shots and creating some good kills against our tough opponents.

So far this season, how do you feel about the team’s performance?

LF: I think our team has grown so much, just with this new staff and a bunch of new girls we’ve meshed together so well already. As far as the performance goes, we’ve done amazing things on and off the court and have really just meshed with a great, great culture.

With all the change in the offseason, what was it like having so many new teammates and getting to know a bunch of new people? How was the team able to mesh during the offseason?

LF: I think when everybody came in during the summer, it was really crucial for us to do a lot of team bonding. We spent every day together over the summer, going to the pool, doing fun things outside of volleyball as well as in the gym. We really got to work on the court and prioritized our culture off the court as well to make sure we’re meshing together and creating those relationships that will last a lifetime.

What was your favorite team bonding activity that you did in the offseason?

LF: We went to this one go-karting place and rode go-karts, and they had axe throwing, batting cages, golfing, just a bunch of different activities there. That was super fun, and it seems like everyone really enjoyed it.

Who’s the best axe thrower on the team?

LF: I would say Dilara Gedikoglu.

During the offseason, do you think there was a particular point where you could tell the team had a breakthrough moment that was really important to the team bonding?

LF: I really think going to the pool and having conversations, we felt we could develop friendships outside of the court. I feel like it’s really been crucial and important for us. I’ve noticed in myself just going to different activities like AIA (Athletes in Action) and getting involved in the whole athletics department has really created a community and made everybody else on our team feel very included in other activities.

Your main specialties are defense as a libero and serving. How does having those two main specialties affect your preparation for a match?

LF: I think the main skills right now I’ve been focusing on, and even throughout the preseason as well, have just been my serve and pass game and really honing in on my serve. Then just focusing on how I can really be good at the pass as well as serve-receive. As far as preparation goes, I think I’ve been getting in a lot of reps and serving the ball a bunch of times. Coach has been really good about driving my serve and point score as much as possible in the rotations that I’m in, so that’s very crucial for my role right now.

In high school, you weren’t always a defensive specialist, you were on the attack quite a bit. How was that transition in roles when coming to Mizzou?

LF: In high school, I did hit quite a bit. I was an outside hitter and just transitioning through that, it’s given me more all-around skills to just have knowledge about the game and be able to read those hitters after being one. And then also just knowing the shots that are available for them through the block, it’s actually helped me on defense by knowing attackers’ tendencies. But the transition has been fairly easy. I trained as a libero a lot in my club ball, so I got the best of both worlds with high school and club before my preparation for Mizzou.

What was your recruiting process like, and what led you to choose Mizzou?

LF: I was recruited by Josh and Molly (Taylor). I went to one of the camps here and they saw me play and were like wow, you’re really good. Let’s have you come up with the elite camp and a bunch of our other recruits and see how you fit in. And then they said, we want you to become a Tiger.

I was honored and blessed and sought out some other opportunities that came my way and other offers. I ultimately decided to come to Mizzou because it was close to home and just ultimately felt like home with the girls and the community that I was provided with. It has a beautiful campus and so many academic opportunities for me as well.

What does it mean to you to be able to play for your home state team?

LF: I love representing my home state and being able to have that community available to come to our home games and bring in a bunch of fans. It’s been great being close to home and close to family as well. I’m honored to play for my home state team.

With the coaches who recruited you no longer a part of the program, what led to you deciding to stay here this offseason?

LF: I was able to have an open mind going into it, and I was just willing to give them a shot and kind of see what opportunities could arise from this. I thought well, you know, this sport has already brought me so much in my life, and I think this new staff has only enhanced all the opportunities in my life. They have made my overall experience much better and very enjoyable, and just brought in a great group of girls for me to bond with and create lifelong relationships as well, which has been such a blessing.

Focusing back on this season, what would you say has been the team’s biggest area of improvement from last season?

LF: I think our biggest area of improvement is just really our culture, how well the girls mesh together and the relationships between the staff and the team and the girls, it’s just phenomenal. We all have a great bond, throughout everybody. We are excited and have great vibes coming into the gym every day to get after it and work hard, and they really instill hard work in us and ultimately try and make us confident women at the end of the day, which I know our coaches are big on prioritizing.

And then what would you say has been your biggest personal area of improvement on the floor?

LF: My biggest skill-wise improvement has been passing. Over the years, I’ve just really been able to hone in on that skill. I see it as more of a mental skill and how much focus I can put into the mental side of my game. Growing in that aspect has been huge for me, especially with this new staff. They’ve implemented a lot of different exercises for us to do to grow mentally, ultimately allowing us to translate that to the court which has been phenomenal.

Are there any particular areas that you’re going to be especially focusing on improving for the rest of the season?

LF: I would say just continuing personally to hone in on my serve and really focus on that, and how I can drive and point score and get the other teams out of system.

Your next match is Alabama (Wednesday, Oct 11), what should Mizzou fans expect from the match?

LF: I think the fans can expect a great battle between both teams. Alabama is a good team, we’re a good team, and it should be a good fight. I think we’re looking to have some good competition.

Let’s talk a little bit about the classroom. You’re currently majoring in health science. How are you liking that, and how are you able to balance a demanding class schedule with being a Division 1 athlete?

LF: As a health science major, it is a big course load. I think time management is a big thing that I have had to practice and get better at over the years, because it’s extremely important for all student-athletes, especially being a health science major. I’m in six classes right now. During the season, it’s especially important to time manage and be very good about communication, is what it comes down to. Making sure we’re communicating with Clay, our academic adviser, and all of our professors on the days that we were missing due to travel. And just catching up on that work and being proactive in what I do with my schoolwork.

What are your plans for after your volleyball career?

LF: I have been looking into a couple different anesthesiologist assistant programs. They have a few in the United States. That’s the career that I’m looking to go into and pursue as a grad school program in the future.

What is your favorite place to travel to in the SEC, and why?

LF: I would say Florida. One because it’s warm, two because they have this light-up court which is really cool, and just being a part of their big SEC atmosphere. They always have a lot of fans and it’s just always a fun, fun atmosphere to play in when we travel there.

Let’s talk about CoMo a little bit. Do you have a favorite spot around campus either just to hang out or study or anything like that?

LF: I always go to different coffee shops around Columbia. I think they’re known for that, and one of my favorites is Acola. It’s downtown, and it’s just such a fun, peaceful place to go and study, do some homework, and visit with phenomenal people. I also love to go hiking and walk around different trails. The Katy Trail, the Devil’s Icebox is a great place to hike as well that I love to go to on my off days and just be in nature.

If I did my research correctly, you didn’t start playing volleyball until seventh grade?

LF: I started in seventh grade after I retired from gymnastics. Yeah, I picked it up kind of late and just was playing for fun, and started to get recruited and thought that college ball would be a really cool opportunity to pursue.

Do you think that your gymnastics background helped you in volleyball in any way?

LF: Yeah, absolutely. I think my mom put me in gymnastics when I was two years old, and I did that sport until about 14-15 years old. Having that foundation of strength, flexibility and adaptability to different scenarios has just really set me up for success in other sports. I think it has a different mental game to it. You have to be very mentally strong and able to just be fearless going out there, doing flips on a beam when you could risk your life. It’s just a very different sport and it’s also an individual sport, which is very different from volleyball where you’re with a team.

Do you attend any of the Mizzou gymnastics meets when you have time?

LF: I’ve been to a few. They’re normally in the spring, so I have had more time to go watch those in the past spring or two. They’re always so fun to watch, and it brings back great memories.

You had an unusual start to your college career, enrolling early in the spring for the 2020 season. What do you think the benefits have been of being able to enroll early and be a part of that extra season?

LF: It definitely was in a very unique time because it was also during COVID that spring season that I came in. We went to the NCAA tournament. I wasn’t eligible to compete, but just coming in and getting adapted to such a high level of volleyball and developing relationships with those girls was just a unique experience. And being able to experience the tournament and what that’s like, especially in a spring season, which is unusual. So it was a great experience and allowed me to adapt before the rest of my class got here that summer.

As we wrap the interview up, do you have anything you want to say to Mizzou fans?

LF: Just thank you for all your support. I mean, it’s very much appreciated. We’ve had great crowds this year already at our home games, and we just appreciate the love and support and we really feel it. Getting to interact after the games on autographs is such a joy for us as well. You bring a lot more joy into our lives than you realize, so thank you.