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In the moment after the ref blows the whistle and advances a hand to command the serve, if Morgan Chacon is standing in her natural position at outside hitter, her eyes are everywhere.

First, she watching her Crown Point passers, communicating for which has the ball when it lands where on the court.

Then she's watching the blockers on the other side of the net. She's picking out the setter, which middle has been the strongest all game, where are the seams she can go after.

Then she waits for the serve.

The vision to keep her mind on both sides of the net came from years on the beach volleyball court, years on the indoor court and years learning from those who have beaten her.

"Morgan has an ability to look at her match ups and always go around them," Crown Point volleyball coach Alison Duncan said. "Her success has a lot to do with her vertical jump and how she just hangs there. That allows her to pick out how she's hitting. That makes her unstoppable.

"A lot of coaches, it was a reoccurring theme from almost everyone we played, they said they couldn't stop her. That was Northwest Indiana teams, Indianapolis teams and even the team we saw from Tennessee. You can't stop her."

Chacon didn't start out that way. The repeat Times' Player of the Year had 102 kills in her freshman season at Crown Point.

Back then, she was only watching one side of the net.

"The biggest thing for me was that I was way too quiet," Chacon said. "My freshman year I was like a mouse. Volleyball is a game of communication, and even between my sophomore and junior year I had to learn that and grow. I had to keep talking to people around me. It's about working on the craft and reaching out of my comfort zone. That took me another year to learn."

She reminds her younger teammates that she wasn't always "Morgan Chacon," Duncan said.

"That's a tool that she uses: when I came in as a freshman I wasn't the player I am today," the coach said. "She tells them, 'I had to do extra reps and take care of myself and do x, y and z.' She shows them that this is the end result. It's so fun to look at her freshman year pictures and to see how much she's grown and how much stronger she's become and how much faster she's become. There's so much development as a player and a person."

One of Chacon's traits this season was to make sure the other side of the net was acknowledged. Win or lose, Chacon would talk to players from the opposing team. Duncan said that sportsmanship helped set her legacy.

"If you play a sport, it's because you enjoy it," Chacon said. "I would never take down another team to win. I respect my opponents and everyone I play with and against."

Chacon has had her head in a book since Crown Point's runner-up finish in the Class 4A state finals. Chacon recorded a team-high six kills in the game, despite breaking her leg halfway though the first game of the match.

With all of her hard work, she remains on track to graduate in December from Crown Point and will join her sister, Alaina, at Florida State in January. Both will be freshmen at the school as Alaina is on scholarship with the beach volleyball program and Morgan will play indoor.

"I'm really excited to be a freshman again, because I'm so used to being the younger player," Morgan said. "I like stepping up and having that underdog feeling. Even though I'm a freshman, I can still play like I'm not."

Chacon originally committed to Arizona State, but changed to Florida State over the summer. She said that talking to the FSU coaches after her injury at the state finals only solidified her decision to join the Seminoles, and four days later she signed her letter of intent.

"They were nothing but reassuring that my scholarship was OK and my coach said he knows I'll be back and better than ever," Chacon said. "I will work hard through the process and I wanted to stay on course with my schedule to graduate in December and get down there. That's when I know I picked the right school."

Offensively, Chacon grew from her 102 kills as a freshman to 480 this season and 1,452 in her four years, setting a career mark in the Bulldogs program. This season she was also third in blocks (75) behind fellow senior D-I signees Reece Kral and Peyton Yelich and second in digs (284) behind younger sister and libero Savana.

"I think when you say her name, when you say 'The Morgan Chacon,' everyone in the state of Indiana knows who she is, not just in our gym but in every gym in the state," Duncan said. "She has impacted so many different people on so many different levels. She's a role model to the kids in my program and so many kids have come to our games, saying, 'I just wanted to come see Morgan play.'

"She's a good sportswoman and shows great respect on and off the court. We're so lucky at Crown Point to have had someone like her to be a role model, for all the athletes and little kids coming to our camp who say, 'I want to be like her and train like her and do what she does.' She's left a legacy that I don't think anyone can touch."


Sports Director

Hillary has covered prep, pro and college sports -- and even a Dixie Baseball World Series -- for newspapers north and south of the Mason-Dixon Line since 1995.