Amanda McKinzie thought something bad was about to happen.
An assembly was called at Sheila Guerra Gymnasium on Monday, prompting her and other St. Philip Catholic Central High School students to speculate what was to be announced.
It turned out to be some very good news for McKinzie, who was named the 11th recipient of the Miss Volleyball Award, presented by the Michigan Interscholastic Volleyball Coaches Association in conjunction with the Detroit Free Press.
“I had no idea,” said a gushing McKinzie. “We all heard we had an assembly, but I thought it was something bad because there were so many rumors that it was something bad. Especially with all the priests there. Even when we came in here, I had no idea. I saw the news and my assistant coaches and I still didn’t even know. So it was a total shock.”
The Tigers’ 6-foot senior outside hitter was selected among 10 nominees for the award, winning with 151 points. Gull Lake senior Katie Schau finished third in voting with 96 points, while fellow Gull Lake senior Leah Perri was fourth with 78 points. Other finalists included Grand Haven’s Abby Cole (second, 111 points), Midland’s Tori Blake, Mattawan’s Allie Havers, Temperance-Bedford’s Ellen Hays, East Grand Rapids’ Mackie House, South Lyon’s Chloe Reinig and Whitehall’s Hope Rillema.
McKinzie is the seventh St. Philip player to be nominated for the Miss Volleyball Award and the second to win it. The others are Allyson Riley (2003), Allyson Doyle (2006), Kristin Zull (2007), Lena Oliver (2008) and Ryian Hubbard (2010). Megan Reetz won the award in 1993 prior to it being presented jointly by MIVCA and the Detroit Free Press, which it has been for the last 11 years.
“It’s an awesome award for her individually, but it’s a great honor for this program,” said St. Philip volleyball coach Vicky Groat. “We’ve had a lot of talent come through this program. Allyson Doyle was second (in Miss Volleyball voting) a few years ago, we’ve had a lot of girls on the list, it’s just awesome for the program.”
McKinzie is a National Honor Society member with a 3.87 GPA, a two-time first-team All-State selection and is committed to play volleyball at Virginia Tech.
Groat said she knew she had something special when she watched McKinzie in a pickup volleyball game as an eighth grader.
“She just had that competitive drive,” Groat said. “She wasn’t messing around when she was on the court, even in a pickup game. She wanted to put that ball down, and that’s the type of athlete you want on your court, and she’s been amazing for four years. She’s really developed and matured over the years, so it’s been awesome.”
McKinzie was a starting outside hitter for the Tigers her freshman season, helping the team claim the Class D state championship trophy. She led the Tigers to state titles in 2010 and 2011 as well, bringing the school’s tally to six straight trophies and a state-record 17 overall.
McKinzie and the top-ranked Tigers will play in the state quarterfinal round on Tuesday at Big Rapids High School against fourth-ranked Leland.
“I love going in knowing every team wants to beat us and its a huge thing,” McKinzie said. “I love it because you can’t take anything for granted. Everybody comes out ready to play, so you have to be ready too.”
McKinzie is having her finest season to date with 701 kills, 429 digs, 41 blocks and 130 aces. Her 2,437 career kills (and counting) currently rank fifth in state history.
“We’re very, very proud of her,” said Bill McKinzie, Amanda’s father. “And when you look at the hard work, the excitement for us is not only for Amanda, but also for the team and for the program at St. Philip that Vicky has built. It’s a wonderful program here. They start out at a very young age wanting to be a part of the volleyball heritage at St. Phil, so we couldn’t be happier.”
Like Amanda McKinzie four years ago, little sister Abby McKinzie will try to be a part of another state championship as a freshman for the Tigers. This season is the first time the two have played on a team together.
“It’s been very exciting,” Abby McKinzie said. “It’s fun, anytime we win, to be sitting there next to her. And our numbers are right next to each other, so it’s been a lot of fun and a good experience… She’s a great sister. Very helpful and gives me pointers in volleyball practice and tells me what to do.”
The 2012 Miss Volleyball Award winner said she’s going to enjoy her last days as a St. Philip volleyball player, but will remain focused on helping her team achieve its state-championship goal.
“I’m older now, I realize how exciting it is,” McKinzie said. “Having this, I feel so honored, but we still have a job to do. We have a big game tomorrow and hopefully it all works out.”