Mackenzie Anderson signs on to play volleyball at Blue Mountain
McCook Community College sophomore Mackenzie Anderson (Hyannis) has signed a letter of intent to play volleyball next season at Blue Mountain College, an NAIA school in Mississippi.
Mackenzie, who was recruited as a right-side hitter out of Ogallala High School, switched positions several times during her college career, but ultimately found success at the end of the season as a middle blocker.
“I recruited her as a right-side hitter, moved her outside last year, and then moved back to right side at the start of this season,” said MCC Coach Hayley Kobza. “She is a player that you want on the court and it just wasn’t working out.”
After a heart-to-heart talk between player and coach, Anderson moved to the middle mid-season.
“She took it, and had tons of success,” Kobza said.
On the season, combining her time at multiple positions Anderson had 119 kills, 54 blocks, 14 aces and 37 digs. She was one of three MCC players named to the All-Nebraska Community College Athletic Conference team.
“Coming in as a middle half-way through the season, that’s a pretty big accomplishment,” Kobza said.
Her shifting positions also had a potential impact on schools that were recruiting but Anderson said she had developed a solid relationship with Blue Mountain College Reid Gann, who followed her progress and her position change and maintained an interest in having Mackenzie come to Mississippi.
Anderson toured the school virtually and said the more she spoke with Coach Gann the more she liked his philosophy and his approach to volleyball.
She said growing up on a ranch in Western Nebraska, going some place new and different really appealed to her and she wanted the chance to experience things she wouldn’t get to in Nebraska.
“It’s also pretty cool I’m going to a school that has a T.V. series,” she said in reference to the fictional television series “Blue Mountain State” and its football team the Mountain Goats. Her new real team, the Toppers, play in the TranSouth Athletic Conference.
Mackenzie said she knew making the transition from playing high school volleyball to college would be a big transition but she wasn’t prepared for the level of commitment needed from a physical standpoint.
“When Coach Kobza first recruited me she said there would be hard workouts, but I was not expecting Olympic training,” she said. “I was training harder than my friends who went Division I.”
But like her teammates, they saw that their hard work has paid off and now five of the six sophomores have signed on continue playing volleyball at four year schools and the sixth is contemplating offers.
“That’s why you come to McCook. If you want to go on to play at a four-year school, this is where you come to get better as an all-around player,” she said.
“For us success isn’t about making it to the national tournament it’s about getting our sophomores to the next level,” Kobza said. “That’s how I recruit players. At the end of the day if these players get to go on to a four-year institution and get to continue to play volleyball and continue with their education, that’s where we have succeed.”
Anderson said she is going to miss playing with group of girls and is sad but also happy that everyone is getting the opportunity to go on and play another three years.
She is expecting to graduate in May with her Associates Degree and will continue pursuing classes in business. This week she received notice that she received a summer internship with KNEB radio in Scottsbluff.
In addition to missing all the quality time with her teammates and coaches, she’s going to miss the community.
“I just think that it’s really cool like if we got out to Wal-Mart that people will recognize us and say ‘hey you’re on the volleyball team,’” she said.
She fondly remembers being invited to the skating rink last fall and later enjoying s’mores at a bonfire and said she loved being part of a small community.
Anderson’s two years at MCC certainly had an impact on Kobza.
“After coaching Mackenzie in the middle, I’ve kind of got a different theory on middles: You don’t need somebody that’s six foot, if you have someone who is 5-7, 5-8, and spunky and quick and has a good attitude and they want to be on the court and pound balls, put them there,” she said.