MacKenzie Bigbee jumps into leadership role as senior


Dalton Gackle/Iowa State Daily

Freshman Grace Lazard and senior Mackenzie Bigbee go up for the block. The Cyclones beat Dayton 3 sets to 1.

Brian Mozey

Leadership can be shown by performance on the court or character off it. For ISU volleyball’s senior hitter Mackenzie Bigbee, she’s a leader on both fronts.

Bigbee is entering her last year at Iowa State and has aspirations that include a Big 12 Championship as well as a run in the National Championship. Bigbee’s attitude on and off the court translates to her leadership and dedication as a volleyball player.

“She’s a tremendous person with great character,” said ISU volleyball head coach Christy Johnson-Lynch. “She’s a leader by the way she lives her life, and I know the team respects her because she’s a strong and honorable person both on and off the court.”

Bigbee came to Iowa State in 2012 ranked as the No. 36 recruit in the nation by Ever since stepping on the court as a Cyclone, Johnson-Lynch has been impressed by her statistics and devotion to the team.

Bigbee amassed 316 kills in 106 sets during her first two years at Iowa State and became the Big 12 Freshman of the Year in 2012. She was unanimously selected All-Big 12 First Team in 2013.

Bigbee said these awards are motivational tools to become a better player in the next season.

During her junior year, Bigbee said she was ready to improve her numbers from her sophomore season, but injuries got in the way. Her numbers dropped as the injuries piled up, and they weren’t aided by an adjustment to players around her. 

Bigbee hopes to keep injuries in her rearview mirror during her final campaign. 

Johnson-Lynch said she’s liked the way Bigbee has been playing in the preseason, also mentioning that she likes the way Bigbee is interacting with the new freshman class.

Bigbee said the team goes by a motto that the veteran players hope can be picked up by the freshmen. 

“One thing we really try to emphasize is to never take a day off, so just coming in with that mindset that you’re going to get better,” Bigbee said. “As an upperclassman, I hope to instill that into the younger players because it’ll help in the long run.”

Jess Schaben, freshman outside hitter, said she’s happy to have players like Bigbee on the team because it gives her an opportunity to learn by just watching.

“[The seniors] help me so much, like after every play they’ll tell me what to adjust in my blocking or in my hitting,” Schaben said. “They’re also really friendly when talking to me, so it’s nice to have that kind of leadership.”

Bigbee said she’s ready to do whatever is necessary for the team this year. If that means leadership, mentoring or focusing on statistics.

“She wasn’t necessarily our go-to last year, but I could see her becoming that option this year,” Johnson-Lynch said. “She leads by example and that’s the best leader you can have.”