Senior captain Lauren Voss and the Loyola girls water polo team captured the program’s first sectional championship since 2013 and will play at the state tournament this weekend. The Ramblers (19-12) open with Conant in Friday’s quarterfinals at Stevenson. A four-year varsity veteran, Voss scored two goals in the team’s 5-3 win over New Trier in the sectional final at Glenbrook South on Saturday. She was selected to the all-sectional first team. Voss’ older sister, Claire Voss (Class of 2016), played water polo for the Ramblers and was a freshman when they last played at the state tournament. Lauren Voss lives in Chicago’s North Center neighborhood and attended St. Andrew School. She plans to play water polo at Santa Clara University.

MAROON & GOLD: This is the time of year when going to practice is fun. What’s it been like since earning a trip to the state tournament?

LAUREN VOSS: We are all pretty psyched. The energy has been super high. We scrimmaged the boys team [Tuesday], and that was fun. It was a little rough, but I think it will help us going into the state tournament. Our goal all year was to win sectional. Anything beyond that is more than we asked for.

M&G: Was there a moment when you realized this team was capable of getting to this stage of the season?

LV: I think it was when we played Fenwick [May 5] at the MCAC tournament. We were up at the half, and we ended up losing by two. But we lost to them by eight in the first game of the season, so it showed us how far we had come this season. It gave us momentum going into the sectional tournament and the confidence we needed to play well there.

M&G: Your sister played at the state tournament as a freshman. Did you contact Claire after the sectional final?

LV: I texted her about an hour after the game to let her know. She sent me a long text back congratulating me. There was a lot of sisterly love.

M&G: How did you get started in the sport?

LV: My sister introduced me to it. I watched her play and then decided to try out for the team my freshman year at Loyola because I wanted to play on the same team with her. I ended up making varsity that year.

M&G: You spent part of last summer playing for UVSE, a club team in Budapest, Hungary. Tell me about that experience.

LV: It was incredible. A New Trier coach who’s from Hungary asked me at the beginning of the polo season last year if I would be interested. I contemplated it and decided I couldn’t pass up this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I was there for five weeks and was completely immersed in Hungarian culture. The language is so different. I got an app for my phone to try and learn from Hungarian phrases before I arrived. Whenever I said something, though, people laughed at me. But they gave me credit for trying. The food is really heavy, a lot of pasta and rice dishes. One meal we had fried cheese with rice and mayonnaise. That was the worst. But after a hard practice, I shoveled it all into my mouth. If I could do it again, I would 100 percent go back

M&G: While in Hungary, were you able to visit other countries?

LV: I went to Vienna, Austria, and Croatia. Everywhere I went was so beautiful. So much history.

M&G: How did you improve as a water polo player?

LV: I noticed I am able to do whatever I want in the water this year. I can control the ball and direct the offense. On defense, I’m able to guard girls in a way that makes it hard for them to score. I wasn’t able to do those things before. I also came into this season with a lot of confidence. I got my butt kicked in Hungary, but it made me a better player.

M&G: Loyola head coach Kim Przekota told me you’re an excellent student. What are some of your favorite classes or subjects?

LV: I’ve always liked English. I’ve been a big reader since I was a kid. I’ve read a lot of non-fiction books this year. The whole school read “Just Mercy” by Bryan Stevenson, and then he came and spoke to us. That was cool.

M&G: You will continue your Jesuit education at Santa Clara. Do you know what you want to study?

LV: Right now, I’m leaning toward education. I like that, as a teacher, I will have summers free to go and do service. That’s been a passion of mine. But I’m 18, and I’ve heard people can change majors many times in college.