Freshmen tandem making an impact

Josh Johnston

New Kent State volleyball teammates’ current mindset: ‘Go out there and play’

Maigan Larsen is talkative. The brown-haired Wisconsin native stands at 5-foot-10 – relatively short for a volleyball player. On the court, however, she can spike volleyballs into her opponents’ faces as a hitter.

The 6-foot Lauren Simon doesn’t talk as much. She comes from Norwalk, just an hour-and-a-half drive down the turnpike from Kent State. As a setter, she controls the team’s offensive tempo.

The two women seem to have little in common. But as the Kent State volleyball team’s only two freshmen, Larsen and Simon both are dealing with the transition from high school to college.

“I was really nervous,” Larsen said. “I mean, I put on a brave face, but obviously we all have those jitters, and I was definitely nervous.”

Simon said taking summer classes gave her an idea of what to expect in her classes, but moving from high school volleyball to Division I volleyball was a big jump.

“There’s just so much you have to learn, and the style of playing is so much faster here,” she said. “The techniques are different. I really had to change a lot of things.”

This Weekend

KENT STATE volleyball team (2-1)


Where: Orono, Maine


• 4 p.m. today vs. Quinipiac (1-3)

• 10 a.m. tomorrow vs. Providence College (3-2)

• 6 p.m. tomorrow vs. Maine (2-2)

The freshmen had to learn how to anticipate plays, Kent State coach Glen Conley said. He said in high school, a player will stand still after making a play. In college, players are taught to keep moving.

“What you do without the ball prepares you to be successful with the ball,” Conley said. “You play the vast majority of the game without the ball, so in high school they stand around until the ball comes to them.”

Larsen’s and Simon’s overall athletic abilities attracted Conleyand assistant coach Tarah Beyer, Conley said.

So far, both freshmen seem to have adapted well to college volleyball. Last weekend in New York, Simon notched 56 assists and 15 kills, while Larsen started in two matches and made 14 kills.

“(The) first time I got on the court, I went into the gym that night telling myself I was going to be confident and a little cocky,” Larsen said. “I mean, just go in there with a brave face. I told myself, ‘It’s just volleyball, it’s just the game of volleyball – go out there and play,'”

Contact sports reporter Josh Johnston at [email protected].