Finishing Force

Sept. 16, 2004

by Jon Price

Intensity is defined in Webster's Dictionary as follows: 'Exceptionally great concentration, power, or force.'

Maybe it should read 'See also: Brie Hagerty.'

A junior on the Husky volleyball team, Hagerty plays with the utmost intensity in every match in an effort to help motivate the younger players on the team.

'I think that I enthuse others because I am pretty intense when I play and I am really animated,' she says.

Athleticism is not lacking in the Hagerty family. Brie's brother, Luke, was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the first round of the 2002 Major League Baseball draft, and her sister, Rachelle, was selected to the high-performance volleyball camp at the Olympic Training Center in 2001.

It's likely the Hagerty kids inherited their love of sport from their parents. Brie's father, John, played beach volleyball and was the primary motivation for Hagerty's interest in the sport. Completing the athletic family circle is Hagerty's mother, Bretta, who coached her daughter in volleyball at Defiance High School in Ohio, where Hagerty was born and raised.

With Bretta working the sideline and Brie attacking the net, the Hagertys led Defiance to a pair of sectional titles, including one during a 2000 season in which Brie was named WBL Player of the Year. In four years, the younger Hagerty earned three All-WBL accolades and set two state records, with 39 kills in a match and 577 kills in a season.

With offers coming in from several schools, there was little doubt where Hagerty would wind up next.

'Ohio State was always a dream for me,' she says.

As a freshman, Hagerty appeared in 42 games for the Buckeyes, tallying 57 kills and ranking fifth on the team with 1.36 kills per game. As it turned out, however, the reality of life at Ohio State did not match the dream Hagerty had envisioned. Ready to quit the sport altogether, she says, she received a call from Husky sophomore Carolyn Farny, whom she knew from club volleyball competitions during the summer. Farny suggested Hagerty contact Husky head coach Jim McLaughlin, who was turning the Husky program into one of the Pac-10's most formidable.

'I finally got to talk to him, and I liked what he had to say about the systems and the way that he ran volleyball,' Hagerty recalls. 'He came to my house for a visit and convinced me to come on a trip to Washington. I loved everyone -- the way they played, the way they practiced, and the way that they trained. Everybody gets along and supports each other. Jim is a great coach; he's the main reason I wanted to be a part of this team.'

In 2003, Hagerty's first year with the Huskies, the sophomore made 21 starts, leading the Huskies to a top-10 national ranking and the brink of a berth in the Final Four. Only All-Pac-10 performer Sanja Tomasevic had a better kills per game average for the Huskies than Hagerty's 3.56, which included 23 double-digit kill games. An outstanding season behind her, Hagerty saved her best for last, posting a career-high 21 kills in an NCAA regional semifinal victory over Stanford, the Huskies' second win over the No. 5 Cardinal in three tries in 2003.

'It was amazing, I was so ecstatic,' she says of the match. 'Growing up, everyone was always talking about Stanford because they were so good in every sport. It was unbelievable to beat them the first time, but to beat them again in the NCAA Tournament was just unreal.'

The victory proved the last of 2003 for the 23-9 Huskies, who dropped a heartbreaker, 3-2, to Minnesota in the Elite Eight. After battling back from 2-1 down through three matches, the Huskies fell just six points shy in the final game.

'It left a sour taste in my mouth,' she says. 'We always tell ourselves that we were six points away from the Final Four. When we're in the weight room or when we're at practice and things aren't going right, we just remind ourselves of that six points and keep pushing harder.'

National pollsters don't need to be reminded of how close the Huskies' came last season -- Hagerty and her teammates were given a lofty No. 7 national ranking entering the season, and have climbed to No. 3 with a perfect 6-0 start to the 2004 season.

'We don't think about it,' she says of the ranking. 'We do what we have to do. There are always that start really high in the rankings, but they drop quickly. We just want to stick to our game and do what we need to do.'

Hagerty knows best -- it's not where you start that matters, it's where you finish.

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