Oct. 6, 2011
Every Thursday, UCLABruins.com will sit down with a member of the women's volleyball team. This week, we talk with freshman Karsta Lowe, who discusses the differences between high school and college, being the only left-handed hitter on the team and her decision to stop playing tennis to focus on volleyball.
UCLABruins.com: How have your first two weeks of college classes gone?
Karsta Lowe: They've gone well. There hasn't been a lot of work in my classes yet. My art history class is really hard though. There is a lot of reading in that class. Otherwise they aren't so bad. I'm taking a really cool class called life skills, which talks about dealing with stress and yesterday we actually meditated in class.
.com: What was it like being the only girl and the youngest among three siblings in the Lowe household?
KL: My brothers are really great people because they are smart, cool, funny and nice, so it's a lot to live up to. One of my brothers went here and the other went to Berkeley, so they are really smart. My older brother (Roger) is 25 and the middle brother (Griffin) is 22, so I was always the little baby. It's funny because when we watch home videos I always look like the little annoying sister who would take their skate ramps away or cry and scream. Vacations weren't always that fun because they'd go off and do boy stuff. Sometimes they'd include me, but I'd have a good time with my mom and we did the girl stuff. But I really enjoyed having two older brothers because they set a good role model for me to follow.
.com: Was it difficult changing high schools after your freshman year?
KL: I went to my rival high school (Torrey Pines) freshman year because my brothers went there and that's where I was districted to. I didn't really like it at all. But the main reason why I switched was because on my club team it was all La Costa Canyon people, so I became really good friends with them and it became natural for me to go there. I'm really glad I switched to LCC.
.com: When and why did you decide to attend UCLA?
KL: I committed in the spring of my junior year. I came on an unofficial visit and I just remember being on campus and thinking that this is where I should be. At first in the recruiting process, I didn't want to go to UCLA because it's too close to home. But then my brother Griffin went here and I went to a volleyball game and I remember walking on campus and thinking that this school was so awesome.
.com: How has it been adjusting from high school volleyball to collegiate volleyball?
KL: Before obviously I was a big fish in a small pond and now I'm a small fish in a big pond. In high school you are the star. You get set all the balls and I was the main hitter. But I like it more now because I have so many more people to compete with. I know that I don't have a guaranteed spot to play and I know I have to work for it and having that as a motivational factor is really good. I think that has helped a lot.
.com: Have you usually been the only left-handed hitter on your teams?
KL: Yes, for the most part. I remember at volleyball camps they would ask who is left handed and like three people would raise their hands. I guess it's good and bad. It makes you unique with that southpaw swing. Some people say that it is an advantage because it brings in a different element. It's cool. I like it. It makes me special.
.com: When did you start playing volleyball?
KL: I started in the fourth grade. There was a really strong volleyball program at my elementary school and I remember trying out and I was terrible. I had no hand-eye coordination and I made the B-team every year. Even in eighth grade I didn't make the traveling team. I played a lot of other sports at the time too, so volleyball wasn't too significant. In high school I played tennis a lot competitively until my sophomore year of high school. But I realized that I didn't really like the individual factor of it and it was also during the same time of the year as volleyball, so I had to make a decision between those two. And I realized that volleyball was my sport and that's the one I wanted to focus on.
.com: Were you always one of the taller people growing up?
KL: Growing up I was above average in height, but my growth spurt came in my freshman year. On my driver's license it says I'm 5-foot-10 because that's how tall I was when I got my permit. My family are late bloomers.
.com: What part of your game do you feel you need to work the most on?
KL: Blocking is one, but I dream of being a really good passer. But blocking is more pertinent for me now. I've been focusing a lot on that. I'm getting some footwork down and (assistant coach) Dan O'Dell helps me a lot with blocking.
.com: What do you enjoy the most about playing volleyball?
KL: The team aspect. One of the things I didn't like about tennis was that it was individualistic. I like that on a team you have other people to rely on. If you're having a bad practice or you get blocked straight down, there is always someone there to pick you up. That's what makes volleyball so great. You are with these girls on the court and you have to find a way to make it work together.
.com: Do you have a pre-game routine or superstitions?
KL: I'm not the superstitious type. One thing I usually do is that after serve and pass I have to go back to the dorms and take a shower. I don't know why. I just have to every single time. I also like to have my iPod in to get into my mental zone. It gets me pumped up if you listen to the right song.
.com: What has been your most exciting moment on the volleyball court?
KL: Junior year at LCC, we were a really good team and highly rated. It was the CIF finals for San Diego Section and we were playing Torrey Pines and we know all the girls on the team and it's a big rivalry. We were up 2-1 in the fourth set and we were down like 23-17 but we came back and won the game. That was pretty amazing. I will always remember that.
.com: What is your favorite website?
KL: I love Facebook, but I hate it at the same time because there have been countless hours of me and Zoë (Nightingale) on our beds and on Facebook. Sometimes I'll say no Facebook Fridays, but I never actually end up doing it. I turn on my computer and the first thing I click on is my Facebook bookmark.
.com: If you could trade places for a day with a celebrity, who would it be?
KL: I would say (tennis player) Maria Sharapova. I still love tennis and I think it would be so cool to be world known for it. She's obviously hot and she gets tons of photos taken of her and that would be cool for a day. And she's got that cool grunt when she hits.
.com: If you could travel anywhere around the world, where would it be?
KL: I've always wanted to go to Antarctica just to see what it's like. It's all snow and nobody actually lives there. I think it would be so cool to see all the animals that you are told about but never get to see.
.com: If you could have one super power, what would it be?
KL: Flying for sure. Sometimes I'll just watch birds and it's so cool how they can soar up into the sky and just be above everyone else. I love the feeling when you are descending on a plane too. Another reason is because if you are late to class you can just fly there.
.com: Who is the team's class clown?
KL: Obviously Priscilla (Duke-Ezeji). She loves to dance and she has mountains of energy. I don't know where it comes from. I was her roommate and she just wakes up and turns it on. She's just fun to be around.
.com: What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
KL: Over the summer I love going to the beach. I love going into the ocean. I could be in the ocean for hours and just chill in it. Here I like to walk or run around. I like to hang out with friends. I like to go on an occasional hike. My mom was teaching me how to sew over the summer and that was cool. I tried to make a shirt, but I failed and I didn't make one.
.com: Who has been the most influential person/people in your life?
KL: My parents. They've really shaped me and made me who I am.
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Lauren Van Orden