Incoming Wisconsin volleyball freshman 'super high on life' coming off national title (2024)

Lola Schumacher knows what it takes to win a national championship, even if she didn’t have time to fully appreciate it. But that’s part of a championship mindset.

She only had a few hours to appreciate what she just had accomplished with her Munciana Volleyball club teammates as she flew from Orlando home to Indianapolis. Upon landing, she had to do laundry, finish packing, load the car and prepare to drive to Madison, where she moved into her dorm the next day. Then, it was on to life as a University of Wisconsin volleyball freshman a day later, attending classes, weightlifting sessions and getting acclimated to new teammates.

“The satisfaction will come a lot more later,” Schumacher said, “but I'm just so in the moment right now, and (I’m) getting a new activity every day. So I think that it'll set in a little bit, but I'm super high on life right now, which is awesome.”

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Her goal with Munciana was to be ready by the last game of nationals to impact the Badgers, but perhaps she didn’t realize how quickly that adjustment would come. She knew she wanted to fortify her skills as a libero by becoming better in serve-receive and passing, an area that has doomed the Badgers to close the past two seasons.

Schumacher feels like she’s done that. She worked hard to be more aggressive in those two areas, which led to greater confidence, and that mental aspect gives her control over situations.

“Just serving and passing wins games,” she said. “It's kind of like breathing if you can serve and pass, you can live. So I think that one thing that Kelly (Sheffield) and I talked about was serving and passing just because I think serving and blocking are the two things that you can never prepare for enough before you get to the next level.”

She’s always been a big dreamer, wanting to be the first woman to play in the NBA only to settle on volleyball at 13 years old. In the five years since she began playing volleyball, she’s become an Under Armour All-American libero playing alongside freshman setter Charlie Fuerbringer in January.

It’s remarkable that she got to that point. She is 5 foot 5, yet started out as an outside hitter in her first year playing, then became a setter, then a libero for two years before wrapping up her high school career at Indianapolis Brebeuf Jesuit back at outside hitter. It gives her an opportunity to be a vocal leader from the back row.

“I've kind of had a vision for the court, (and) an understanding for the pain the other positions go through because when people are in a certain drill, and they're gassed, they're like, 'Oh, it's not that hard.' I'm like, 'No, trust me, this drill sucks. This drill is hard,' because I've been in their shoes, and I can relate,” Schumacher said.

“And I think that for my position, it just kind of trickles down because when a hitter is going up, I know the vision of the court and what they can't see, I can. So I kind of inform them like, 'Hey, this is wide open.' … There's so many things that I see that they don't, which has helped me a lot as well as my teammates.”

Her versatility certainly appears to be a bonus as she seeks playing time on a back line in question. Returning are sophom*ore Saige Damrow, who was dealing with a knee injury and played just six sets last season, junior Gulce Guctekin, the starting libero as a freshman but a reserve defensive specialist most of her sophom*ore season, and senior Julia Orzol, who served as libero last season but could rotate back to outside hitter.

Playing together for a match as All-Americans allowed Fuerbringer a glimpse into what Schumacher can bring.

Incoming Wisconsin volleyball freshman 'super high on life' coming off national title (1)

“A lot of it is mental, so that her competitiveness is one of her main aspects of what makes her so good,” Fuerbringer said. “But Lola is very athletic and she's able to get to a lot of balls. She can run down any ball and she's very focused on her passing angles, and she's really good at that. She has a great serve and just all around she's really good. She's just in general a really good volleyball player, which all ties into her being a great libero.”

And Schumacher’s efforts to crack the rotation, or even start, were underway quicker than she imagined. She already is enjoying it more than high school as she gets to manage her time and work through the transition with other freshmen, though Trinity Shadd-Ceres was away trying to qualify for Canada in track and field and Tosia Serafinowska hasn’t arrived from her native Poland.

But it has been an adjustment from being at the top of her class as a high school senior to “the bottom of the food chain” as a college freshman.

“I was working out at home, but these girls have been doing like two hours of lifting heavy weights every day, and just my body's not used to it,” Schumacher said. “So I think adjusting to that is definitely a big change and that's something that's definitely helped me kind of change my mindset and be like, 'You know what, it's OK. We're all at different parts of our life. I'm gonna get there eventually,’ but not trying to compete with girls who are lifting double my body weight, and then (I’m) getting hurt.”

Though there are growing pains, Schumacher knows she can contribute to a common goal: Winning a national championship. She has some of her own things she’s learned to bring to the table.

That’s something that returning veterans, including Sarah Franklin and Carter Booth who won silver with Team USA at the NORECA Women’s Final Six Pan American Cup, can appreciate as they incorporate a freshman class featuring someone with Schumacher’s pedigree. And she already is showing she has the mindset it takes to move forward.

“It was great winning a national championship, but I think at some point there's bigger milestones,” she said. “And I'm glad that I got to move onto this now. So it's like I'm taking a new chapter of my life.”

Photos: Former Wisconsin Badgers compete in new professional volleyball league

Incoming Wisconsin volleyball freshman 'super high on life' coming off national title (2)

Incoming Wisconsin volleyball freshman 'super high on life' coming off national title (3)

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Incoming Wisconsin volleyball freshman 'super high on life' coming off national title (7)

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Incoming Wisconsin volleyball freshman 'super high on life' coming off national title (9)

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Incoming Wisconsin volleyball freshman 'super high on life' coming off national title (2024)

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