Girls Volleyball: West Aurora’s Lauren Carlini is the total packageWest Aurora's Lauren Carlini celebrates after defeating Waubonsie for the Class 4A Regional title in Aurora on Thursday, Oct. 25, 2012. | Mike Mantucca ~ For Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 10, 2012 4:40PM
Individual accolades are nice, and there have been many during Lauren Carlini’s career.
She was named the nation’s top college recruit in 2012, according to a survey of college coaches released by Prepvolleyball.com. She is the favorite to win the Illinois Gatorade Player of the Year award and is a contender for national honors.
Conference MVP. Tournament MVP. There aren’t many honors she hasn’t won.
But Carlini, the Chicago Sun-Times 2012 Player of the Year, is not concerned with awards and plaques and medals. More than anything else, she wants to win.
“I hate losing,” Carlini said. “I’d give up everything to win a state championship. In a heartbeat. The same thing for a national championship in club. I don’t have to think about it.”
That drive, that will to succeed, and an almost inhuman athleticism, are what make Carlini so special.
“Carlini is the ultimate physical setter,” John Tawa of Prepvolleyball.com said. “Her fitness level is extreme. You have to respect her offense, so when she jumps to set, the defense must jump also, creating one-on-ones all over the court. Her blocking can shut down the best left-side attackers.
“She is one of the most competitive ‘hate-to-lose’ players I have ever seen,” he added.
You don’t have to look far to discover where she gets her competitiveness.
Carlini’s mother, Gale, played at Wheaton North and Appalachian State, and her firefighter father, Tony, was a high school wrestler.
“Both my parents are very competitive,” Carlini said. “It comes from both my parents.”
Carlini’s drive to succeed practically willed West Aurora to back-to-back DuPage Valley Conference titles, including a school-record 32 wins and a regional title this fall.
“Her dedication to her sport and her motivation to always be better really set her apart,” West Aurora coach Kari Nicholson said. “She dominates as a hitter, sets up our offense as a setter and has a dynamite jump serve. She is really quite an all-round player.
“However, I believe that her skills and her skill level is only one thing that sets Lauren apart. She is a true leader. She sets an example by her own hard work, as well as her ability to motivate her team.”
Carlini will take that same drive, energy and leadership to the University of Wisconsin next fall.
“I can’t wait,” Carlini said. “I wish I could graduate early and go now.”
You can be sure the rest of the Big Ten is in no hurry to see Carlini in a Badger uniform.