When she was a freshman, Matty Lagerwey played on a La Conner volleyball team that lost in the state title match.
It was a disappointment ... but far from a waste.
Lagerwey paid attention to how the upperclassmen on that year’s team led: encouraging teammates when they needed a shot of energy, teaching them when they needed to refine their skills.
During her senior season, Lagerwey put it all to use, resulting in her being named the Skagit Valley Herald Volleyball Player of the Year.
“When I think of that 2015 year, it’s a huge part of who I am today,” she said.
With her smarts, leadership and hard-hitting attack on the court, Lagerwey led the Braves to an undefeated season and the state Class 2B title, the program’s fourth state championship. Aided by underclassmen such as Joanie and Justine Benson and newcomer Morgan Herrera — as well as a crop of talented freshmen — Lagerwey capped a volleyball career by being named the state-tournament Most Valuable Player.
That award goes along with another: She was also named her league’s Most Valuable Player.
Lagerwey said she wasn’t always sure the Braves’ season would end with a state title.
“If you’d asked me a month before, I would have said ‘No way,’” she said. “But our mindset changed from ‘We can do this’ to ‘We will do this.’ You just need to stop talking about what you want to do and do it.”
The Braves rolled through the Class 2B tournament, a run that included a five-set clash with Tri-Cities Prep the Braves won 22-25, 25-18, 20-25, 25-21, 15-10, and a win over Mossyrock in the title match 24-26, 25-22, 25-21, 25-11.
Lagerwey said those wins were fueled by the Braves’ conditioning.
“We were more conditioned ... that’s why we could kick it into another gear in the fifth set,” she said.
Braves coach Suzanne Marble said the work for that success started in the summer, when Lagerwey took on a key role in organizing her teammates for workouts.
“If people didn’t show during summer workouts, she’d make phone calls,” Marble said. “She held herself accountable, and it made others want to follow. She led by example. With that came a huge amount of confidence.”
Lagerwey, also a key basketball player and multiple title-winning track and field athlete for the Braves, credits her success to the tools given to her by previous La Conner athletes.
“You can have lots of talented people,” she said. “But leadership takes you where you want to go.”