COVINGTON — Lauren Hackett plays volleyball to have fun.

And to win.

Because, as the Kentwood High School senior puts it, winning is a lot more fun than losing.

So if Hackett is smiling during the Class 4A state volleyball tournament this weekend at Saint Martin’s University in Lacey, it should mean good things for the third-ranked Conquerors (29-3).

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The 6-foot-2 senior is a key reason Kentwood is considered a contender in a field that features nationally ranked Bellarmine Prep of Tacoma, the defending champion. She was voted MVP in the SPSL North after leading the division in kills (231) and aces (51). She pounded a school-record 31 kills in a five-set win over Graham-Kapowsin this season.

Equally important, though, according to coach Bil Caillier, is that Hackett is also a VNP — very nice person.

“She is probably a better person than she is a volleyball player,” he said. “She’s just a nice kid.”

A kid who plays the sport for the right reason — because she enjoys it.

“The minute I stop having fun playing volleyball, I’m going to stop playing volleyball,” Hackett said. “Volleyball isn’t my whole life.”

In fact, while she does plan to play volleyball at California Baptist University in Riverside, her focus for the future is seeing the world and assisting people in need — and painting more watercolors, her current hobby.

“I don’t know if I want to do missions or if I want to start a nonprofit, but I know I want to travel and I know I want to help people,” she said.

Hackett helped Kentwood reach the state-championship match as a sophomore, when the Conquerors lost a tough five-setter to Olympia.

“We were so close. I never wanted to win so bad,” she said. “I think I even cried after the game, and I’d never cried after a game before.”

If Hackett and her teammates play to their standards this weekend, she believes they could win the championship.

“I really think we have it this year,” she said. “I think we are on the right track. If we just focus on the game in front of us, to reach our eventual goal, I think it’s going to go well.”

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