Terminating by example (Volleyball)

Nick Halpern

Erika Lange may not have the biggest mouth in the Big Ten. She may not tell you about her countless accolades and intimidating presence on the volleyball court.

Maybe it’s because she doesn’t have to.

Lange’s performance speaks for itself. The 6-foot-3 middle blocker has cemented her place as one of the best players in Northwestern history. She holds the single-season and single-game records for block assists, is second in career blocks, and will likely move into the top three in kills per game this season.

But just as astonishing as her skills is her humility.

“She just goes about her business,” said head coach Keylor Chan. “She wants to lead by example by working hard and just playing volleyball, and she wants others to do the same.”

As a four-year starter, Lange has established herself as a venerable leader of the team.

“I would consider myself a leader on the team because I have four years of experience now and I feel like I know what it takes to compete in the Big Ten,” Lange said. “Hopefully I can motivate my teammates to play at that level.”

“You always know what youre going to get with Erika,” Chan said. “She is our best blocker and attacker. We refer to her as the Terminator — she finishes plays and is the focal point of a lot of points.”

But Lange’s impact goes far beyond setting an example for her teammates. Lange’s importance to NU has become even more crucial as the Wildcats have been plagued by erratic play this season. But Lange has been a mark of consistency, leading the team in attack percentage and blocks per game.

“My goal is just for our team to build on last year,” says Lange. “We want to have a better season and end higher than we did last year to make the second round of the tournament.”

Whether she’s setting records at NU or coming up as one of the most highly touted volleyball players in the nation at Carl Sandburg High School in Orland Park, Ill., Lange has always put the team’s success above her personal glory.

“She’s always been very team-orientated,” said her father, Rich Lange “Even in high school when she was a standout, she wasn’t looking to be a hero. She likes others to get credit and have their place in the sun, and show it’s a team effort.

“She doesn’t hurt her arm trying to pat her back.”

As the season and her career wind down, Lange has had a chance to reflect on her four years.

“It’s pretty special now,” Lange said. “I didn’t ever anticipate having this kind of impact when I came in. It has been special.”