Hazekamp, the Trojans’ dynamic 5-foot, 8-inch setter, has made the most of her time while donning Fruitport’s navy blue. After this fall, she’ll arguably be one of the most decorated setters in school history, regardless if Fruitport is able to make a return trip to Kellogg Arena in Battle Creek — home of the state volleyball semifinals and finals.
A starter at setter since her freshman season, Hazekamp, a two-time first-team All-State honoree in Class B, had a brilliant season statistic-wise last fall by averaging 8.8 assists per game, to go along with her effective offensive production of 1.1 kills a game. With her above-average leaping ability, she’s also effective at the net at blocking, making her an all-around threat.
More importantly, Hazekamp added the ultimate team achievement to her resume on Nov. 20, a Class B state championship. It was Fruitport’s second title in program history.
The Trojans’ victory was borderline remarkable, considering they fell behind challenger North Branch by a 10-4 score in the do-or-die fifth game of the match. Fruitport turned in a spirited comeback and stunned the Broncos with a 15-13 win.
“Oh my gosh, I still watch the highlight video to this day,” Hazekamp said with a laugh. “When it’s 10-4, some of the girls still get the feeling like we’re going to lose or something.
“We were able to come back because everyone believed in each other,” she added. “Throughout (that match) we believed in each other and if one person goes down, then everyone else is there to pick each other up. That’s what Fruitport volleyball is all about.”
Hazekamp will have more responsibilities to motivate her younger teammates this season, and taking the role of vocal senior leader is a task she’s willing to accept. The Trojans will have to overcome the losses of a pair of talented hitters in graduated seniors Sam Geile and Beka German, as well as defensive standouts Crystal White and Julie Larson.
“Sam was such a phenomenal player and she worked so hard everyday,” Hazekamp said. “Plus, she was such a vocal leader for us. She’s going to be hard to replace.
“I’ll be trying (to be a vocal leader). Me and Bre (Geile) are trying to step into that role.”
Bre Geile, the younger sister of Sam, is the Trojans’ top returning threat at the net with an average of nearly three kills per game, which earned her second-team All-State honors last season.
The Trojans’ first test comes today, as they’re one of 14 teams in the opening tournament of the season — Grand Haven’s Lakeshore Classic. Pool play at the tournament gets underway at 8:30 a.m. at Grand Haven High School.
Fruitport coach Nicole Bayle saw some natural raw talent in Hazekamp back when she was a freshman, and through hard work and dedication, she’s developed her game every season, she said.
“She’s been on my team for four years, and we’re looking for a lot of leadership, a lot of offense, and some creativity from Lauren,” Bayle said. “She played club all season long and really came in strong. She’s a tough kid, one of the best setters not just in the area but in the state. I’m looking for some really good things from her.”
Hazekamp, the daughter of Dave and Julie Hazekamp of Fruitport, said she was attracted to the sport at a young age due to former Fruitport standout Holly (Punches) Hazekamp. Lauren began attending Fruitport volleyball camps when she was second grade.
“Holly started dating my brother (Dan) when I was like 5 or 6, so I watched her in high school when they made it to the state finals,” Hazekamp said.
Holly Hazekamp is now an assistant varsity coach at Fruitport and pushes her sister-in-law to improve on a daily basis. Bayle has also been a huge asset to Hazekamp’s development, having turned in an All-American career herself at Grand Valley State as a setter.
“To have two coaches who care so much about seeing you improve, it’s great,” Hazekamp said. “They continually push you every day, which always helps. They’ll help me fix one problem in my game, then it’s on to the next one and they’ll continue to push me until it’s right. It’s definitely what every player wants.”
Hazekamp is also a defensive-minded point guard for the Trojans’ basketball team and a midfielder on the soccer squad. Her busy athletic endeavors included club volleyball with Inside Out, which ran from late November through the summer. It’s no surprise that volleyball is the sport she’ll pursue at the next level.
“Right now, Hope College is my top choice,” she said. “I’ve met the coaches and they’re really nice,” Hazekamp said, who plans to pursue a degree in dentistry or physical therapy. “But right now, I’m keeping my options open.”
The school that is fortunate enough to land Hazekamp may be getting a candidate for Michigan’s Miss Volleyball award, not that Hazekamp is overly concerned about the honor. When asked if it was an important goal, she quickly scoffed and shook her head.
“I would much rather win another state title than win that,” she said. “Winning an individual award like that can’t beat the feeling of winning a championship with your team.”