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Senior Lauren Dickson returned to her home state of Texas with the Virginia volleyball team this past weekend to open the 2009 season. The Cavaliers went 1-2 at the Texas A&M Invitational and have returned home to play host to the Holiday Inn Jefferson Cup this Friday and Saturday in Memorial Gymnasium. This Friday the Cavaliers will face NC Central at 1 p.m., and VCU at 7 p.m. Virginia will conclude the tournament Saturday with a match against Campbell at 3 p.m.

Question: How does it feel to be on the court playing again?
Dickson: It’s so exciting! Competing is why we put in all the hours in the gym and weight room over the summer, and it’s awesome to finally have the chance for our hard work to pay off.

Question: Opening the season in your home state of Texas, what was that like? Did you have a lot of fans there?
Dickson: I had been looking forward to playing in Texas since my first year, and it was definitely worth the wait! I am so blessed with amazing family and friends back home that have supported me throughout my career. I had a group of about 10 friends road trip from their schools to come cheer me on. They even made shirts that said “Dickson Domination”. My parents and brothers also made the trip, along with a few old next-door neighbors. Between the three Texans on the team, we had a fan section to rival Texas A&M’s!

Question: Did you know any of the girls on the other teams?
Dickson: Playing against Texas A&M brought back a lot of memories from high school and club volleyball. One of my old teammates plays there, and two of their starters were on a rival club team since we were 12 years old.

Question: Were you able to do anything fun while you were in Texas?
Dickson: Everything is fun in Texas! I’m just a little biased. We got to play volleyball, which is always fun. But, we actually had a pretty tight schedule this trip, so other than playing, we just rested, ate and watched film on our next opponent.

Question: The team on the court is young this year, with four starters being either a freshman or sophomore. What is that like?
Dickson: Honestly, I don’t really think age makes much of a difference. The underclassmen have been working really hard to learn the systems, and they are doing a great job transitioning into the college game. Once we step on the court, it just feels like six people on one side of the net trying to beat the six people on the other side of the net.

Question: You and Brittani were recently named co-captains of the team. What does that honor mean to you?
Dickson: It really is a huge honor and privilege for me. It means a lot to know that my teammates respect Brittani and me, and that they trust us to be responsible and reliable.

Question: Up next is the Jefferson Cup. Are you excited to be playing at home again?
Dickson: Of course. We were really excited about all the support we had at the orange/blue scrimmage, and we look forward to packing the fans into Mem this season. I can’t wait to get some wins this weekend in front of a home crowd.

Question: What is the best part of playing in Memorial Gymnasium?
Dickson: I love how close everything feels. The fans are right next to the court, and it gets LOUD! There is nothing better than playing in front of a capacity crowd at Mem.

Question: Now that the team has played someone other than itself, what do you feel will be the strengths of this years’ squad?
Dickson: I think our biggest strength will be our ability to get better. I think some teams peak early in the season and then struggle to finish the way they started. This year’s team has a ton of potential and the work ethic to reach it, so I look forward seeing us continually improve throughout the season.

Question: As a senior, you’ve just opened your last chapter of Virginia volleyball. What is the most important thing you’ve learned from playing volleyball?
Dickson: Volleyball has been such a huge part of my life, I can’t even imagine who I’d be without it. It has taught me hard work, competitiveness, sportsmanship, teamwork, etc; but I think the biggest thing I’ve learned from the sport is the importance of relationships. Once this year is over, all the hours in the gym and all the wins and losses will be gone, but I will always have the friendships that I have built with my teammates.

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