Roddy’s strength key in volleyball’s success

By Mike Romor

Volleyball’s Mackenzie Roddy is versatile in every sense of the word.

Starting her career as a sophomore in high school, Roddy quickly adapted to the sport and dropped tennis, which her sisters play collegiately. By the time she left high school, the California native played club volleyball with All-American Krista Vansant and led Cajon High School to a 34-0 record in the San Andreas League.

As a freshman at NIU, Roddy played heavy time as the right side hitter, different from her middle-blocking high school years, on a team featuring the best set of hitters in the MAC with Allison McGlaughlin and Lauren Wicinski.

After her freshman year, Roddy expected increased playing time with McGlaughlin graduating. When Wicinski opted to join Michigan State, Roddy was thrust into a focal position on the team and moved to the outside.

Her ability to adapt when needed is what impressed head coach Ray Gooden when she was recruited.

“Her versatility was a really big deal [when we recruited her] because we initially saw her as a middle,” Gooden said. “We then moved her to right side, and then she eventually came here as a pin hitter for us, and it’s been great. We love having her here and hope she’ll continue to grow and become one of the top players in our conference.”

Within six years of playing volleyball, Roddy has developed into a solid NCAA front-row player. This year, Gooden said she increased her strength and defensive abilities, which allowed her to become an important part of the team’s back row.

Roddy’s increased kills per set and serving percentage are great for the young team, but her advanced all-around defensive play has been one of the most-needed improvements.

“I actually really like playing defense, like passing and serve receive,” Roddy said. “I feel like I could be a good stabilizer for our team back there. Justine [Schepler] is really great on defense, and we work really hard and give it our all to keep balls in play and alive. I’m just trying to be scrappy back there and trying to defend as best I can.”

Roddy attributes her improved defense to offseason strength training.

“As I’ve gotten older, I feel like my body’s gotten stronger, especially this past summer,” Roddy said. “I put in a lot of work in the offseason to get stronger. With all the different roles, that definitely helps me, especially being a bigger part on defense this year. I think that my strength helps me last through matches.”

Increased defensive outputs, including an average of 2.51 digs per set this season, have helped Roddy eclipse 1,000 career points through just more than two-and-a-half years. Roddy is on pace to become the 21st player in NIU history to reach 1,000 kills by the end of this season.

If she keeps up her average digs per set, she will also reach 1,000 digs by the time her career comes to a close, which would make her the 10th player in program history to join the 1,000-1,000 club.

“She’s working her way and emerging to becoming one of the best attackers not only on our team, but in the entire conference,” Gooden said. “Little by little, she continues to improve that way. She’s been around some pretty incredible hitters in her time, and she’s been able to use that to craft her own game.”