Reaching high, making the most of a volleyball career

Former Kentwood star shone at Division II college

Lauren Hackett. COURTESY PHOTO

Lauren Hackett. COURTESY PHOTO

Having made it big on the college volleyball courts, Lauren Hackett plans to make it even bigger after graduating.

The former Kentwood High School star, a senior at NCAA Division II California Baptist University in Riverside, blossomed in a sport that has taken her to tournaments throughout Washington and other parts of the country.

On these trips, Hackett met some wonderful people.

“I really, really love to compete in general, but I also just love everyone and all the friends that I’ve made (at) places it has taken me,” Hackett said.

Volleyball is her sanctuary.

“You can just live in the moment, play and compete,” she said. “It’s definitely an adrenaline rush. … It’s kind of like you zone everything else out and you just focus on your team and get the ball over the net.”

All the hard work has paid off for Hackett, an All-America outside hitter and a two-time College Sports Information Directors of America Academic All-America selection. The graphic design major led CBU’s offense this season with 384 kills with a career-high .271 hitting percentage, 35 aces and was also third on the team with 260 digs and fourth with 60 blocks.

Hackett also ranked 25th in Division II this season with 4.62 points a set, 40th with 3.88 kills a set and was 86th in total kills.

She graduates with six All-West Region awards in her career, five All-America accolades and is also the first Lancer to be named the West Region Player of the Year in the NCAA, as well as Freshman of the Year in D-II.

CBU ended the year with a 29-1 record, won the PacWest title, hosted the D-II West Regional and finished 2017 ranked sixth in Division II on Monday.

“It’s cool because it brings attention to the school, and our school is pretty small and under appreciated,” Hackett said of her long list of honors. “It’s also cool to see my parents sharing things on Facebook. I can tell they’re really proud, and that makes me really happy to give that to them, especially after all the time they put into going to club tournaments, traveling and making it to every game.”

Hackett began playing volleyball when she was about 10 or 11 years old in the Covington Recreation League. As she got older, Hackett played on the junior club level, eventually ending up primed and ready to play for Kentwood, where she became one of the most consistent, standout high school players in the area.

“I think volleyball for me was more about skills and less about aggression, and I think I liked that a little bit better,” she said. “I was definitely more inclined to play volleyball because my mom played. You know everyone wants to be like their mom.”

Her college career complete, Hackett is considering the possibility of playing in Europe, understanding there are fewer opportunities in the U.S,

“I’m going to try and continue to play after college on a pro team somewhere,” she said.

Hackett has done quite a bit of traveling so far and wants to continue to travel and help those who need it. With a minor in global justice, she would like to work at a nonprofit organization that fights human trafficking after graduation.

When she was a freshman she went to India to volunteer.

“It was insane, like I have never seen poverty like that … it was eye-opening,” she said. “It helped me understand that I am just a very small part of this really amazing and diverse world.”

Last summer, Hackett went to the Dominican Republic for a service trip, helping out at a school and an orphanage there.

Hackett is ready for the next challenge in her young life. These past four years of college have been amazing.

“It feels good. It’s been a perfect four years,” she said. “It doesn’t feel like it’s gone by too fast. It feels like I know I’ve grown up a lot, so that’s pretty cool to look back and see the difference in myself as a freshman (to now).

“It’s just cool to look back and think, ‘Dang, I did it. It’s over.’ ”

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