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Sept. 4, 2003

By Matt Shoultz, USC Sports Information

Lauren Ford brings something to the Gamecocks volleyball team that none of the other newcomers could. Ford, a transfer from the University of Wisconsin, has valuable experience at a major level after competing for one year in the Big Ten. The middle blocker hopes that her time as a Badger can help add valuable experience to this young Gamecock volleyball team.

“I feel the Big Ten is a very competitive conference. Playing at Wisconsin my freshman year, I have experienced playing at a high level,” said Ford. “I have played good teams like Minnesota and Penn State. I learned so much about volleyball last year and I believe I will bring what I learned there mentally and physically, and apply it here on and off the court.”

After attending Wisconsin for one year, Ford felt it was time for a change of scenery in which she could better develop her skills as a player. The Indianapolis, Ind., native participated in 24 matches as a freshman and had a promising future with whichever program landed her. In the end, Ford chose South Carolina because it had many things that she felt good about.

“During my junior year, South Carolina was one of my top three schools but I never visited. When I decided to leave Wisconsin, Carolina was the first school I thought about,” Ford said. “So I came for an official visit and I liked what USC and the volleyball program had to offer. The girls were fun and I loved the campus. Plus the weather is a big change from Wisconsin weather.”

An accomplished three-sport athlete in high school, Ford feels that Coach Hudson Christopher’s coaching style plays to her strengths. The sophomore, who was ranked 28th on Volleyball Magazine’s Fab 50 players expected to make an impact in college volleyball after her high school career, also believes that she will become a better person by playing for Hudson Christopher.

“I think Coach Hudson Christopher’s coaching style definitely matches my personality. She is coach and a teacher and I will benefit a lot from that,” commented the liberal arts major. “I also believe that she will not only help me to become a better volleyball player, but a better person in life. She has experienced things that I have not and I can learn a lot from her.”

After a summer spent taking classes and conditioning for the upcoming year, Ford looks forward to the opportunity to get on the court and match up against some of the best the south has to offer.

“Well there is Florida, the Gators, which I hear everyone wants to beat. They are very dominating and you always want to beat those on top,” said Ford when asked which matches she looks most forward to this year. “I also am looking forward to Clemson because they’re our in-state rivals. I can’t wait to play in South Bend at the Notre Dame tournament because I am from Indianapolis and my family and friends will be there.”

After playing in the Southern California tournament this past weekend the Gamecocks will return home to play in the Carolina Classic this weekend. Ford, who recorded 24 kills in three games in last weekend’s tournament, looks forward to the rest of the season and saw positive things from the matches against some of the nation’s elite teams.

“I feel pretty good about our team and the way we played. In the tournament we had some good moments and we have things that we can work on,” said Ford. “It was our first match and not everything is going to be perfect. We can only get better. I am excited for the rest of the season.”

Ford is expected to add depth and consistency to the volleyball team and looks to lead the Gamecocks to another strong finish in the SEC. “Lauren is going to be a great addition to our program and we are very excited that she is here,” said USC Head Coach Kim Hudson-Christopher. “Lauren will bring her strong blocking and offensive talents to the court and make our middle position even deeper.”

The Gamecocks, who finished 1-2 at the Southern Cal tournament, match up with Michigan State this Friday, Sept. 5 at 7:00 p.m. at the Volleyball Competition Facility on the South Carolina campus. The tournament will conclude with a Sunday match against North Carolina that is set to begin at 1:30 p.m.