VOLLEYBALL: Kentlake's Lutes named to Sacramento State University's All-Decade Team

Kristin Lutes, who won three state volleyball titles at Kentlake, was named earlier this month to the All-Decade Team at Sacramento State University.  - COURTESY PHOTO, Bob Solorio
Kristin Lutes, who won three state volleyball titles at Kentlake, was named earlier this month to the All-Decade Team at Sacramento State University.
— image credit: COURTESY PHOTO, Bob Solorio

She changed her mind.

But Kristin Lutes’ ascension on the volleyball court remained very much the same.

“I was actually committed to Eastern Washington (University),” the 2003 Kentlake High graduate explained. “Then Sacramento State saw me play. Since Eastern wasn’t offering me a (scholarship) ...”

The decision was obvious.

And it couldn’t have worked out better for Lutes, who was one of the most prolific volleyball players in Kentlake High history from 2000-2003 before continuing that trend at Sacramento State University from 2003-2006. Lutes, who played outside hitter for Kentlake and moved to libero in college, was named earlier this month to Sacramento State’s All-Decade team. Lutes, 25, was the lone libero to make the squad.

As she reflects today on the decision that changed her life, Lutes couldn’t be happier.

“I’m incredibly happy (with the decision to go to Sacramento State),” said Lutes, who’s currently working toward a master’s degree in secondary-education counseling at City University. “Once you think life is going to be one way, God throws you for a loop.”

Eastern’s loss certainly was Sacramento State’s gain.

Few people are more aware of that than Drew Terry, who coached Lutes at Kentlake when the team steamrolled to three consecutive state championships (2000-2002).

“I told (Eastern coach Wade Benson) when he was recruiting players that if he wanted someone to play back row, that he wouldn’t go wrong with Kristin,” Terry recalled. “From the start, she was a very well-rounded player and could have played any position I put her in.”

Lutes may not have received that scholarship offer from Eastern, but she certainly showed her worth in the dozen times the Hornets met up with the Eagles. During Lutes time at Sacramento State, the Hornets won 10 of 12 matches against Eastern.

Of course, Lutes always has been about winning. During her days at Kentlake, the star-studded Falcon squad won a state record 91 matches in a row, three league championships and three state titles. In Lutes’ three years, Kentlake racked up a 118-5 overall record. Along the way, she earned all-league honors each year, and established school records for digs (985), digs per game (3.45) and serve-receive attempts (1,703), marks which still stand today.

“She was so skilled at passing the ball and preparing herself to attack ... you couldn’t beat her,” Terry said.

That success continued in college, where Lutes shifted from outside hitter to libero.

“If I was taller, I would have stayed at outside hitter,” laughed Lutes, who will be interning at Tahoma High this fall. “My height just didn’t allow me to be an outside hitter at the D-I level.”

Needless to say, playing libero served Lutes — and Sacramento State — to perfection. At Sacramento State, Lutes was named the Big Sky Conference’s Libero of the Year three times (2003, 2005, 2006). In addition, she was a two-time all-conference selection (2005, 2006) and established all-time Big Sky marks in digs (2,355) and digs per set (5.23). She also holds Sacramento State’s and the Big Sky Conference’s single-season marks for digs (768 in 2006) and led the Hornets to the NCAA tournament four straight years.

Yet, despite all the numbers Lutes posted through the years, they’re hardly what she will remember most.

“To me, (the numbers) are not a highlight, but just proof of hard work,” said Lutes, who recently became engaged and plans to marry next July. “I think the highlight was the experience. To be committed to something so intense that it teaches you life skills, teaches you how to be an adult, how to be a leader, and how to deal with teammates who are different from you.”

Which simply goes to show, Lutes’ ascension hasn’t ended yet.

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