The stakes were high for Megan LaFond.
The Union volleyball star spent the 2012 season at less than full strength after having knee surgery the previous spring.
She vowed to have a senior season to remember.
"It was a really big deal for me to play the best that I could," LaFond said.
Like a hitter rising above the net, LaFond ascended over all others as the Class 4A Greater St. Helens player of the year. Like a well-struck spike, her energy has left a lasting imprint on Union's volleyball program.
For those reasons and more, LaFond is The Columbian's All-Region Volleyball Player of the Year.
"Replacing Megan's fire and passion is what we're going to struggle with next year," Union coach Tove Papenfuse said.
Versatility on the court was an unexpected blessing of her knee injury. A middle blocker earlier in her career, she played outside hitter as a junior because it was less rigorous on her knee. She returned to middle blocker this season, but with a hitter's skill set.
At 5-foot-9, La Fond is shorter than many front-line players who catch the eye of college coaches. Still, she hopes to increase her stock during a busy club season, which will include senior showcase events in Las Vegas and Denver.
"To play in college, she's going to have to become an excellent passer," Papenfuse said.
Whatever her volleyball future holds, LaFond has carried on a family tradition. Her two sisters played at a high level in high school, Leslie at Evergreen and Carmen at Union. LaFond said being the youngest sister gave her a chip on her shoulder.
Now Union's volleyball program, it its seventh year, is standing on the shoulders of her giant contributions.
All-Region volleyball team
Player of the year
*MEGAN LAFOND, SR., UNION
The 4A GSHL player of the year averaged 16.0 kills and 8.2 digs per match. Her favorite play is a kill. “There’s no better feeling than turning to your setter and screaming your head off.”
Rest of All-Region first team
*SHANNON BOYLE, SR., RIDGEFIELD: Bound for Sacramento State, the outside hitter had nearly 500 kills. She also had more than 300 digs and over 50 stuff blocks.
*LAUREN HARRIS, JR., CAMAS: She had a team-high 405 kills and also contributed 246 digs. Said coach Julie Nidick: “She was our go-to player the whole season and she never cracked."
*KENDALL JOHNSON, SR., MOUNTAIN VIEW: Broke two school records with most points scored (335) and most blocks (111). Also had 47 aces and 202 digs.
*BROOKE VAN SICKLE, SO., BATTLE GROUND: Last year was named to PrepVolleyball’s Top 55 Freshman in the Country. Had supurb sophomore season with 232 kills, 25 blocks, 180 assists, 144 digs, and 40 aces.
*EVI WILSON, SO., COLUMBIA RIVER: The southpaw outside hitter was named to the Class 3A All-Tournament team in leading River to a fourth-place trophy. Led River with 402 kills.
All-Region second team
*CASSIE BAILIE, SR., CAMAS: She had 95-percent accuracy in serving, including 40 aces. She had 202 kills and 194 digs on the season in leading Camas to sixth place in the Class 4A state tournament.
*NICOLE BARTH, SR., SKYVIEW: Totaled 161 kills, 31 blocks and 108 digs. “One of the most well-rounded and humble girls I have coached,” said Kirsten Hoffman. “She’s always working hard on the floor.”
ALYSSA CARNES, SR., LA CENTER: The middle hitter had 49 blocks and 160 digs in leading her team to state. “One of the most hardworking and focused players I’ve coached,” said Heather Grotte.
*NICOLETTE NESBITT, SR., WOODLAND: Her 1,626 assists are most all-time at Woodland. The setter, she still accounted for 150 kills this season. She’ll play for St. Martin’s University next season.
KAYLEE WARREN, SR., PRAIRIE: With a new coach and high roster turnover, the defending state champions were in need of leadership. Warren led Prairie back to the state tournament and was named first-team all-GSHL.
ESTI WILSON, SO., COLUMBIA RIVER: Columbia River’s other outside hitter, she teamed with her sister, Evi, to key River’s state tournament run. Led team with 175 digs.
*-notes player was selected by The Columbian staff, coaches vote and fans vote.