By Kevin Wilson: PNT Staff Writer
When newly-hired Angelo State coach Ruth Lawanson came to run a medium-sized volleyball camp during the summer at Portales High School, PHS senior Megan Kabrick felt it was a sign.
Months later, sign is exactly what Kabrick did, as the four-year varsity member and two-time state champion put her signature to a letter-of-intent to play for Lawanson and the Rambelles starting next season.
As she waited for a morning basketball practice to begin Wednesday, Kabrick reflected on how she always thought her best opportunity to play college sports would be on a basketball court.
“I never ever thought I’d get an offer for volleyball,” Kabrick said. “I did that for fun.”
Portales coach Ruth Chavez wasn’t so surprised. She knew that Lawanson was interested in signing Kabrick, because Lawanson said so.
“I wasn’t surprised at all,” Chavez said. “She told me when she was here doing our camp. She looked at Megan’s fundamentals … and knew she was something she wanted for her program.”
Lawanson, who could not be reached for comment, finished her first season as Rambelles coach with a 9-23 mark. Kabrick said she was impressed with Lawanson during the summer camp when the players were rounding up balls.
Lawanson, who played for the 1992 bronze-medal winning U.S. Olympic volleyball team, served one ball so hard that it was stuck under the bleachers and Kabrick needed two hands to pull the ball out.
“She’s a warrior inside,” Kabrick said of Lawanson, “a strong lady that I can learn a lot from.”
Lawanson originally gave Kabrick a deadline of Nov. 1 to make a decision on Angelo, but the outside hitter admitted she just wasn’t ready to make the choice.
“I just wasn’t so sure about what I wanted to do yet,” Kabrick said. “I talked to Coach Chavez and we had a really good talk. After that point, I was ready to pursue it.”
Chavez said that she never tried to push Kabrick to play college volleyball, but instead told her to take the opportunity if she really wanted to play college sports.
“There’s a lot of people sitting around the country saying I could have,’” Chavez said. “‘I could have doesn’t mean anything and I told her if she wanted to, she should do it. I didn’t want her to have regrets.”
Two days after the original Nov. 1 deadline, Kabrick got a chance to see Lawanson coach when the Rambelles came to Eastern New Mexico University. The host Zias won in four games, but Kabrick felt the Rambelles were better than the scores indicated.
“I think they were pretty good,” Kabrick said. “It was her first season, so they’re not set yet. I think next year, she’ll have everything set and they will know what she expects out of them.”
Part of that equation will be Kabrick, who had 18 kills to lead Portales in the Class 3A championship match against Pojoaque. Chavez said that along with the rest of the team, Kabrick made huge strides in her game in all facets.
“By the time we finished our season, she was just unreal,” Chavez said. “In my opinion, she’s one of the very best players in the state.”
The championship was the second Kabrick had won as a member of the volleyball team, and she was a freshman on the 2002 runnerup team that had plenty of skill, but needed Kabrick’s height to succeed.
“I never knew she didn’t have much experience behind her,” Chavez said. “I knew she could do some things. I threw her in as a freshman and she just ran with it. She never knew anything but varsity, so she’s had to play at a high level her entire career.”