Dakota and Dylana McKenzie have teamed up on the volleyball court since third grade.
Although the twin sisters debated their options, the West Muskingum seniors decided to continue their volleyball careers together at NCAA Division III Bethany.
Both signed letter of intents Wednesday at the high school.
“It’s been a dream to play in college,” Dakota said. “They have a nice program, and I wasn’t ready to give up the dream.”
Dylana said the sisters looked at NCAA Division II Ohio Dominican before choosing Bethany. She felt their relationship will help them adjust to college life, on and off the court.
“We’re best friends. That will help the transition,” she said. “(Bethany) had a small-town feel. The coaches and the team were inviting and welcoming when we visited.”
The McKenzies will join a program coming off back-to-back 31-win seasons. Bethany also has won three consecutive Eastern College Athletic Conference championships and plays in the Presidents’ Athletic Conference.
Both were first-team selections for All-Muskingum Valley League and District 12 teams and were three-year letterwinners for the Tornadoes. Dylana also was the MVL and District 12 player of the year.
Along with their height — both stand around 6-foot-3 — Tornadoes volleyball coach Brent McLoughlin has seen the twins mature and develop the tools needed to succeed at the college level.
“They have a competitive drive and the understanding of the game. They understand what it takes to win,” McLoughlin said. “For kids who like to play the game, I love to see them have the opportunity to continue their careers.”
Dylana said the experiences from their high school playing days, including the run to a regional final in 2012, give both confidence in their abilities at the next level.
“We’re better prepared for adversity,” Dylana said. “We know how to push ourselves and not to give up no matter the score.”
Dakota will major in nursing, and Dylana chose chemistry in an effort to advance towards pharmaceuticals. Their parents are Chad and Crystal McKenzie.