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Haylie Hakanson pretty happy about staying local in college

Haylie Hakanson recently signed with the UJ women's volleyball program.

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Jamestown's Haylie Hakanson (8) gets a block against Bismarck on Nov. 1, 2022, in Jerry Meyer Arena.
John M. Steiner / The Jamestown Sun
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JAMESTOWN — If there was one thing Haylie Hakanson knew in middle school, it was that she wasn't going to play volleyball.

"I didn't want to play volleyball," Hakanson, a Jamestown High School senior, said. "I wanted to focus on basketball but Sara (Hegerle) was always talking to me saying I should join volleyball. I was like, no I'm good.

"I would sit out in the hallway during the Tuesday-Thursday camps waiting for basketball to start and Sara would bug me and tell me to just come in the gym and try it out I was like, I'm good, I will wait."

Coach Hegerle was fine waiting too.

"There was one tournament I was at where I was upset with basketball and (Hegerle) said, 'you should join volleyball' again," Hakanson said. "I said, 'ok' and then went out for it that next fall."

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There began a pretty special relationship.

Hakanson officially committed to continue her volleyball career at the University of Jamestown in August. She is the fifth Blue Jay to sign with the Jimmie volleyball program since 2017-18. Both Grace Hegerle and Rachel Schiele committed to the Jimmies back in 2020-21 while Megan Gaffaney and Hannah Schiele, JHS Class of 2018 grads, signed their senior year of high school.

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"My junior year is when I decided that I wanted to play volleyball," Hakanson said. "I fell in love with the sport and knew I wanted to keep playing after my high school career. I was not ready to close that door on volleyball."

While Hakanson only joined the Blue Jay volleyball program, four years ago, she has been a varsity team member since her sophomore season.

The 5-foot-10 middle hitter patrolled the middle all three seasons spent with Hegerle and the Jays. She has seen a steady progression in her game, thanks to a locked-in dedication that stems from a quiet — but ultra-competitive — spirit.

As a sophomore, Hakanson produced 78 kills — 18 of which came during postseason play — and 24 blocks. Hakanson's first year on

That was only year No. 1.

Excluding the state qualifier match against Bismarck St. Mary's, Hakanson powered 112 kills past opposing defenses. She was pretty darn good on defense too, making 22 stops at the net and tallying 20 digs.

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The Jays fell to St. Mary's in the state qualifier, missing out on their sixth-straight trip to the NDHSAA Class A State Volleyball Tournament. While the loss was one of the toughest blows Hakanson had experienced, it served as a whole new motivation.

The senior ended her final season with a whopping 217 kills, 30 blocks and 11 aces. The Jays made it to the 3rd place match of the state tournament where they defeated Legacy 3-2. Hakanson was one of two members named to the 2022 Class A All-State Volleyball Team.

Needless to say, Hakanson's ride with the Blue Jays has undoubtedly prepared her for the next phase.

"I had been going to the Jimmie camps in the summer and I have just loved the environment while I’m there," Hakanson said. "I have been to many UJ volleyball games at the Newman Arena and the energy that takes over the arena is pretty cool. It just felt like home and on my visit I could just picture UJ being where I wanted to be the next four years."

Sara — along with Jimmie head coach Jon Hegerle — had to be pretty excited when Hakanson made her final decision.

"They are just overall great people," Hakanson said of the Hegerles. "They look at their players as people and not just a kid on their team. They help you become a better volleyball player but also a better person.

"There is so much that Sara has opened my eyes to and made me look at different situations from a new perspective and I am forever grateful for that and her," she said. "On my first visit with Jon, he told a story about how the team really becomes a family, helping each other adjust and picking a player up when they are down and really looking out for each other. I want to be a part of that. I can’t wait to make lifelong memories at UJ."

Katie Ringer is a sports reporter for the Jamestown Sun. Katie joined the Sun staff in the summer of 2019 after graduating from the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire with a degree in journalism. She can be reached by email at kringer@jamestownsun.com or by phone at 701-952-8460.
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