October 28, 2013
By Kelly McHugh
When former K-State volleyball All-American Lauren Goehring (Cost) was inducted to the K-State Athletics Hall of Fame this month, it was a proud moment for the entirety of the women's volleyball program.
The first volleyball player inducted into the Wildcat Hall of Fame in the program's 39-year existence, Goehring led the Wildcats to a memorable 2003 season her senior year highlighted with K-State volleyball's first and only Big 12 Championship.
"We've had so many good players come through our program, and I think Lauren is a very deserving representative to be our first in the Hall of Fame," volleyball head coach Suzie Fritz said. "It was a proud moment for our program. There've been a lot of players over the course of that time come through here and I know Lauren was really honored by it and humbled by the whole experience. We were really proud of it as a program and really proud of her."
It was a season to remember. The 2003 Wildcats, led by Fritz, finished the year 30-5 and, despite holding a No. 5 national ranking during the season, finished the year ranked 11th nationally. Along with its first-ever conference title (18-12 Big 12) the Wildcats earned a berth in the Sweet 16 that year.
"We had a really good chemistry and we all had the same goal in mind," Goehring said. "Everything just fell into place and it was the best. We had good teams before that too, the seniors when I was a freshman taught us so much, but everything lined up that senior year."
At Saturday's K-State football game against West Virginia, the 2003 Volleyball team was remembered for its achievements a decade ago. Along with Goehring, eight other former Wildcat volleyball players, Gabby Guerre, Vaili Hejjas, Sandy Werner, Katie Stanzel, Lisa Martin, Kris Jensen, Cari Jensen and Laura Downey, were honored on the field prior to kickoff and then honored again in Ahearn Field House before K-State volleyball took on No. 1 Texas.
"It's pretty surreal," 2003 All-Big 12 first team setter Gabby Guerre said. "There are so many stories that we all have been catching up on, and it really makes you remember how much of a family we were back when we were playing. Winning the Big 12 was very, very wonderful for us and just being able to achieve that type of success I think that meant a lot to everybody. It's something that we all wanted. It's hard to find a team where everyone has the same goals and desires and to actually follow through on them. I think that was something very special."
The team couldn't have done it without Goehring, though.
"She did a lot for the team," Fritz said about Goehring's 2003 performance. "She served, she passed in a rotation or two, played back row defense; she was a very versatile player. She played with tremendous enthusiasm and just loved to compete. That 2003 group was pretty special, and she would put us on her back at times and say 'Okay, it's time to go.' She just had that in her."
After that 2003 season, Goehring was named to the AVCA All-America First Team and the only Wildcat to be named Big 12 Player of the Year. She finished her Wildcat career with the best hitting percentage (.354) and with the most career kills (1212) by a middle blocker in school history.
"To get that award to become an All-American, you can't do it alone," Goehring said. "I had a really great team that I played with, and everything just lined up. To be honored with Big 12 Player of the Year - it was a tough conference, it's always a tough conference, so that was just a lot of fun."
Before Saturday's football game the 2003 team met up to tailgate and reminisce over their years at K-State. Two weeks ago when Goehring was in Manhattan for the Hall of Fame ceremonies, she didn't have the opportunity to see teammates, so this weekend having the opportunity to catch up was really something special.
"We were together last night and Lauren said, 'It's very weird that one player on that team gets recognized because it's such a team sport, you need to have three touches from three different players to make a point,'" Hejjas, 2003 Big 12 Newcomer of the Year said, "and she was surprised, but I said, 'Lauren, you were our best player on that team! Don't feel bad!' She's the most deserving, and I'm very happy for her. She was the right one to represent us."
Martin, former middle blocker who led the 2003 team in blocks said about her teammate, "Lauren is a natural-born leader. She was just so focused and just a really good, technical volleyball player. When things needed to be done, she was a player and person that cold get it done, and when times were tough, she was a player that could get you out of your funk and get you back to playing and playing well."
With her induction to the K-State Sports Hall of Fame, Goehring's impact on the K-State women's volleyball program is one that will not be forgotten.
From being selected twice for the All-Big 12 First Team (2002, 2003) to becoming K-State volleyball's only player to receive both All-American first team and Big 12 Player of the Year, Goehring will forever go down in Wildcat history.
"She was an important part of where we were trying to get the program to at that time, being more competitive in the Big 12 and on the national perspective," Fritz said. "(2003) was one of the first times when we had been pretty consistently ranked in the top 20 and she was a big part of that.
"Lauren was extremely athletic and extremely competitive. Her attention to detail is what really what stands out for me, and even better is that she is a wonderful human being - she was at the time and she is now. She's just very humble, very unassuming. She's a very kind and considerate person and she was a great teammate."