The journey for the Warsaw senior standout has taken her from a reserve role in middle school some five years ago all the way to a Division I collegiate program.
Lacheta, the outstanding outsider hitter for the Tigers, has made a verbal commitment to play next year at Valparaiso University.
Lacheta got what she wanted on Senior Night Monday evening in the Tiger Den. The special Senior Night program with player bios and photos confirmed that she is headed to play for coach Carin Avery at VU.
Lacheta provided her current coach Mike Howard with plenty to smile about Monday night in leading her team past two-time defending state champion Penn 3-1 in the Tigers’ regular-season finale with a team-high 17 kills and six aces.
Avery, a former star player at Mishawaka High School, also had plenty to smile about as she looked on and then shared smiles and hugs with Lacheta following the huge Warsaw win.
“I’m just thrilled for her,” said Howard. “The thing is that Valpo is getting a great person. Jamie’s such a great kid. She’s achieving something that is most player’s goals and that’s going to play Division I.”
“I’ve coached her for six years and as a 7th grader, people don’t believe this but Alex Sanchez (now the libero for Howard) was our starting outside hitter and Jamie rarely played. But, she’s worked so hard to get to this point. She has been blessed with natural talent, but she is coachable and just wants to get better. And she has such a calm demeanor.”
Lacheta, who has led Warsaw to a 26-5 season so far and an undefeated mark to win the NLC championship, also considered Ball State. Steve Shondell, in his third season as the BSU coach and former legendary coach at Muncie Burris where he won 21 state championships and four national titles, was also in the Tiger Den Monday night.
“I went on a visit to Valpo this summer and just fell in love with the school,” said Lacheta of her decision. “I knew when that happened that it was the right place for me. I then went to their volleyball camp later in the summer and it all worked out. Volleyball is the icing on the cake for me.
“The thing is that I just fell in love with the game and worked hard at it. It clicked and the light bulb kind of came on for me at the start of my junior year. I just went after it. I pursued it relentlessly because I did love the game pure and simple.”Lacheta, the daughter of John and Cheryl Lacheta, wants to study pre-med at Valparaiso and become an oncologist.
Lacheta joins a Crusader program that has prospered under Avery. The former prep All-American, who played for Hall of Fame coach Steve Anderson at Mishawaka, is in her 11th season at VU. She has led the Crusaders to three NCAA Tournament appearances and was 241-96 prior to this year. Avery played collegiately at Kentucky and Ball State.
Avery, under NCAA rules, can not comment on Lacheta until she signs an official letter-of-intent.
Valparaiso, which plays in the Horizon League, is 11-9 overall and 3-2 in conference play this fall. The Crusaders went 20-15 overall and 9-7 in league action a year ago.
“I just love coach Avery,” said Lacheta after the match Monday night. “She has a lot of energy and is always smiling. That fits for me because I’m upbeat and like to smile.”
Everyone involved had plenty to smile about Monday night that’s for sure.