Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Rittenhouse’s talents extend past volleyball court

Coaches describe her as nature-loving and tell of how excited she gets to walk through swamps and take samples of things she finds in these swamps. They also describe her as the only player who thought sea slugs were cool on their summer trip to California. This just goes to show there is much more to UW volleyball tri-captain Lori Rittenhouse than meets the eye.

Rittenhouse, nicknamed “House” by her coaches and teammates, brings a wealth of surprises to the court, as many are clueless about her talented high-school years and her ability in the classroom.

As a child, “House” first started to play organized volleyball when she was in sixth grade. In the years that followed, she played in Saturday leagues but didn’t play club volleyball until she was a sophomore in high school. Even then, she didn’t play on the premier team in the state.


She was too busy pursuing her other love — playing basketball.

She doesn’t even remember exactly what age she started playing; she just knows she has played basketball “all her life.”

During her high-school basketball career, Rittenhouse was a four-time All-City selection, three-time All-Conference selection and was named All-State her senior year. She was so talented, in fact, that her senior year she was a candidate for Ms. Minnesota Basketball against the likes of former UW standouts Jessie Stomski and Tamara Moore. To put this in perspective, many thought she was in the same league as Moore, who is now shining in the WNBA.

That’s why it was such a difficult decision to make during her senior year of high school whether she would play college volleyball and college basketball in the future.

“It was very tough,” Rittenhouse said. “Pretty much, in volleyball I was just feeling the flow. It was a lot more fun, and I was enjoying it more. Part of that was that I quit playing AAU basketball, because it got to be too expensive, and when you are not playing at that high of a caliber, the game kind of loses what’s so great about it.”

After word got out that she was going to play volleyball, the letters stopped coming from basketball teams, but Rittenhouse still had an important decision to make: staying in state and playing for the Golden Gophers or coming to Wisconsin to become a Badger. Obviously, Wisconsin won out, as she said the coaching staff and the campus here in Madison were just a better fit for her.

During her freshman year at UW, Rittenhouse was redshirted, and then her second year the coaching changes that brought current UW coach Pete Waite to Madison occurred.

“It was a different adjustment just because it was my second year at college, and it was a whole different game,” Rittenhouse said. “I had to get used to a whole new system and things like that, but once I made the adjustment, it was fine.”

Her freshman year, she started three matches at middle blocker at the beginning of the season and averaged 0.71 kills per game. The next year, she played in 17 matches, starting three but mainly coming off the bench at right-side hitter for most of the year.

After earning a starting role in the NCAA regional her sophomore year, due to an injury to Claudia Rodriguez, Rittenhouse cemented her role in the starting lineup.

During her junior year, Rittenhouse played in all 31 matches, starting all 31. She led the team with 39 service aces and ranked fifth on the team in kills, with 1.91 per game.

After her success in the program, Waite named Rittenhouse one of his three captains for this season, along with senior stand-out Erin Byrd and redshirt junior Morgan Shields.

After beginning the year once again at middle blocker, she was eventually moved back to right-side hitter, where she has remained thus far. Rittenhouse is third on the team in kills per game, with 3.01, and second on the team in blocks, with 0.91 per game.

“As a player, her best shot is actually off the quick set,” Waite said. “Anything she can do with a quick arm swing is her best. What she is really improving on right now is her blocking, something that she has been working on the past couple of years. She is starting to really solidify our right side defense by closing the holes and really shutting some people down.”

Off the court, Rittenhouse describes herself as “very low key, pretty straightforward and honest.” She claims that she doesn’t usually keep things to herself; if she has something to say, she will say it.

Although she describes herself as pretty straightforward, Waite does say she is the kind of person who can enjoy things and laugh in the middle of something serious.

For example, Waite tells the story of last year’s Halloween match at the Fieldhouse. During the game, there was a parent walking with his child along the end line of the court, and the child was dressed as a Lego. Rittenhouse inadvertently miss-hit the ball over the back row and knocked the little Lego over as the thousands of fans in attendance groaned, and her teammates gave her some good-natured teasing.

While Rittenhouse has been named Academic All-Big Ten in 1999, 2000 and 2001, the senior is not looking forward to the career world yet and hopes to experience some traveling after she graduates this May.

“I have a friend in Norway, and I would love to go visit there for a month or two,” Rittenhouse said. “After that, I would like to get a job working with horses.”

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