Utah Valley middle blocker Lauren Stringham readily admits the transition from high school volleyball to the college game isn't easy.
She's just made it look like it at times during her freshman season with the Wolverines.
Stringham, who earned all-state honors at Davis High last season, has become one of the top playmakers for the Wolverines. The 6-foot-1 Stringham is first on the team in blocks and second in kills, and she's been one of the main reasons the Wolverines (14-8, 5-1 Great West) are tied atop the Great West standings.
"I think part of it is just her determination to accept the challenges," Wolverines coach Sam Atoa said. "I think some freshmen, when they come in, they're a little intimidated. She's really been confident in being able to come in and step into it."
Stringham credits playing club volleyball during the offseason in high school for preparing her for the college game, and she said she has enjoyed the challenge of trying to raise her play to the next level while adjusting to the new level of competition.
Stringham was nervous before the season about playing with new teammates, but the rest of the Wolverines have made her feel comfortable, on and off the court.
"Definitely, [my teammates] have given me great support," Stringham said. "It's hard because I grew up with all those girls [at Davis] through junior high and high school. I thought it was going to be weird being on my own, but it definitely wasn't as hard as I thought."
The emergence of Stringham has not just been a nice surprise for the Wolverines, it's been essential. Utah Valley entered the season inexperienced in the middle, but Stringham has helped turn the area into a strength.
"She's answered questions we had going into the season with a young group, not really knowing what they were going to bring," Atoa said
Despite her illustrious prep career, Stringham knew she had to get better to have immediate success in college. She committed herself to working hard, which Atoa said has been the main ingredient in her ability to make a quick impact on the team.
"She hasn't, for sure, been perfect with what she's done, and we haven't expected her to be," Atoa said. "But she just comes and plays hard. She's been prepared each night. Her hard work in practice and being coachable have been important in helping her have the year that she has had this season."
Atoa said Stringham doesn't yet understand her potential and that she can become the best middle blocker in the state if she puts in the work. But whether she'll continue to work hard to get to that level doesn't seem like much of a question for Stringham, who has no delusions about what getting there will take.
"I think my whole game," Stringham said about what she needs to improve. "I learn something new every day. I try to recognize what I'm doing wrong and listen to what my coaches say, so I'll improve."