With the volleyball team sporting a healthy winning record this year, it’s no surprise they are receiving contributions from multiple players. Some have even captured weekly awards. One of those players is MacKenzie Edwards, who is doing everything she can to help Colorado Mesa University win. In her third year with the team, Edwards has blossomed into one of the best outside hitters in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference (RMAC).

Edwards is coming off a successful 2016 season, earning first team All-RMAC and placing second in the conference with a 3.83 kill per set average.

Edwards has been named RMAC Offensive Player of the Week twice this season, an accomplishment she is proud of and does not take lightly.

Casey Smith | The Criterion

“It’s a really awesome thing for me personally, but then it’s also like a team reward because it’s more of I can do well with the success of the team behind me,” Edwards said. “Without them, I can’t really do anything.”

She has recorded 352 kills, second in the RMAC. She is averaging 4.05 kills per set and leads the team by a wide margin. Edwards also leads the team in points, registering 385.5, good for a 4.43 per set average. She is tied with Samantha Ritter for the team lead in double-doubles with 11. Her commitment to the game has allowed her to take a step forward in her performance this year.

With a decorated Head coach like Dave Fleming, the critical aspects of the game can come smoothly to a player. Edwards has noticed her improvement.

“This year, I’ve really tried to focus on cutting down my errors a lot, and I really think that’s attributed to my overall volleyball IQ,” Edwards said. “I think I’ve progressed in that aspect.”

Fleming has enjoyed coaching her consistent play and watching her grow as a leader.

“She’s always our best attacker,” Fleming said. “Good defender, good passer, good blocker for us. She’s kind of our leader out there and she’s embraced that role.”

The coaching and chemistry is something Edwards has been excited about during the season. It’s something that has been essential to the team’s success.

“I really just love playing with my team. It’s so much fun because we all get along so well,” Edwards said. “And coach Fleming is one of the best coaches I’ve ever had. He cares a lot about the program. I really think he’s helped me grow not only as a volleyball player but also as a person.”

Like many student-athletes, Edwards has kept her grades a priority. She was named first team on the RMAC All-Academics lists. She was one of three Maverick players to be named to the first team. This marks her second year in a row she received this honor.

“I think academics is partly what motivates me to do well in volleyball,” Edwards said. “Volleyball is part of my life, but looking to the future, you have to do well in the academic world because that’s going to be your life. You have to plan for that. Having really good academics shows how well you time manage and how well you can be in the future.”

Assistant coach David Skaff believes volleyball IQ is playing a big part in Edwards’ success in her junior season.

“One of the things that separates Z from a lot of players is she has high volleyball IQ,” Skaff said. “Depending on the situation in what she gets in, she knows how to get out of it if it’s not a great set. She has a lot of range of different shots, different swings that she’s not just a power hitter. She knows when to place the ball, and what situations help better our team.”

With the RMAC tournament around the corner, the team is preparing to be at their best come game time. It’s no easy task, as the tournament is filled with competitive teams, who have challenged the Mavericks all year long.

“We’ve had a few bumps in the road that we’re still trying to overcome a little bit. I think we’re relatively well prepared, but there’s always something more that you can do,” Edwards said.

By playing to her full potential, Edwards is experiencing plenty of success.

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Josue Perez is a junior mass communication student. He is from Montrose, Colorado. He began writing on staff for The Criterion in the fall of 2017 and will be assistant sports editor in the spring. He has a passion for sports and wishes to pursue a career in sports journalism.


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