Column: Loren McKenzie is an emerging star who demands all our attention
Her 12 kills and 8 blocks energize Eagles to 3-1 victory
In the old Pokemon series, there was a move called Rage. The general objective of the move was to build up as much energy as possible before the enemy Pokemon could defeat you. It started off semi-powerful, grew to be extremely powerful and, if your Pokemon had not been defeated, would proceed to cause atom-splitting, team energizing, 3-1 lead momentum shifting damage. Your Pokemon would win the match.
Loren McKenzie is the volleyball equivalent of telling your Pokemon to use Rage. When McKenzie rises up on the attack or defense, she is not aiming to hit the ball. Instead, she absorbs the moment, then the ball, then the weight of the entire team and converts all of that potential into kinetic energy, ultimately coming to fruition on the one square foot of the court that the opposition can’t reach.
McKenzie finished the game with 12 kills and 8 blocks, but her statistics alone ignore the full story of the Eagles’ 3-1 victory over the Colgate Raiders last weekend.
It only looked as though the Eagles could be in trouble when they headed back to the bench following the first set. Having played their fourth game in seven days, it would be easy for the team to lose faith after a set-one loss.
With senior middle blocker Jeanne Westney and junior opposite Jasmine Ellison – key team members – out for the game, it would be easy to lose faith. It would be easy for the fatigue to reach them. But, on Saturday, McKenzie emerged as a two-way superstar, refusing to let the game slip away from the streaking Eagles.
At the start of the second set, when AU needed a spark, McKenzie delivered the first kill. When the Eagles surged out on a 7-3 run, McKenzie rose up for a block with senior outside hitter Helena Elbaek to force Colgate into a timeout, presumably to consider whether or not they wanted to just call the set then and there. McKenzie registered the final two kills and one block. As Colgate grew tired, the senior only grew more powerful.
Simply put, McKenzie provided when other could not, to the gratification of AU head coach Barry Goldberg.
“Her availability to hit balls as well as block does so much for everyone else on our team,” Goldberg said. “Sometimes, getting off the net and getting back up in transition can be difficult for the middle blockers, so when [McKenzie] does that, we’re in big business. If we can keep her in that kind of action, we’re going places.”
McKenzie came through when the Eagles needed it most. If the Eagles can continue to feed off her two-way ability, there’s no telling how far the team can go.