All-Bee girls volleyball Player of the Year: McKenzie Jacobsen

Eagles star took off as coach slowed offense.

The Fresno BeeJanuary 28, 2013 

Clovis West High senior McKenzie Jacobsen -- who stands 6-feet, 6-inches tall -- has long towered over her peers in school.

But a midseason change in approach and tempo provided a spark that allowed the Arizona-bound Jacobsen to develop into a consistent and domineering force in volleyball, too.

And with Jacobsen smashing balls all over the court, the Golden Eagles went on a run that culminated with the school's second straight Central Section Division I title and fourth in five years.

"It's hard to explain how far she's come because people have high expectations with her height. She's just starting to get her confidence on the court," Clovis West coach Rhonda DeRuiter said.

"We have all been really watching and waiting for her to have the season she had this year. Everyone thinks about the positives of being 6-6, but there has been a lot of pressure on her. She really blossomed and became that go-to hitter that you can't stop."

Clovis West opened the season using Jacobsen more as a blocker and secondary hitting option as she developed chemistry with sophomore setter Sydney Rigby, who was thrust into a varsity role after returning starter Emily Minugh suffered a back injury.

After trying for half the season to run the fast-paced attack the Eagles have become known for, DeRuiter and staff noticed that slowing the pace and setting Jacobsen higher rather than quicker was producing the best results.

At that point, Jacobsen became the focal point of the offense. She finished with 304 kills and 50 blocks and was named the Tri-River Athletic Conference's co-Player of the Year with Buchanan's Bissie DenHartog.

"I just tried to play my best," said Jacobsen, The Bee's Player of the Year. "I wouldn't be here without the coaching staff and the team. We worked together very well."

Jacobsen hit full stride in the postseason, delivering 14 kills in a first-round sweep of Edison, 24 kills in a four-set win over rival Buchanan in the semifinals, and 17 kills and five blocks as second-seeded Clovis West rallied for a 14-25, 25-27, 25-23, 25-17, 15-9 win over top-seeded Liberty in the D-I final.

"I think she understood and accepted the fact we needed that kind of performance out of her every night," DeRuiter said. "She went from being a person content holding the block or being a distraction player to being the player to get the ball and everyone knows your getting it, but still being able to produce."

The Eagles reached the semifinals of the CIF Southern California Regional before getting swept by eventual CIF State champ Marymount-Los Angeles. Jacobsen helped Clovis West go a combined 58-19 the past two seasons, with two Tri-River Athletic Conference and two section crowns.

"Things just came together," Jacobsen said. "We had a lot of injuries, but everyone got healthy and we finally played our best."


McKENZIE JACOBSEN

School: Clovis West

Grade: Senior

Position: Middle blocker

She's qualified because: The Tri-River Athletic Conference co-Player of the Year helped the Golden Eagles go 28-13, win second straight league and Central Section Division I titles and reach the semifinals of the CIF Southern California Regionals. Her 17 kills powered second-seeded Clovis West's 14-25, 25-27, 25-23, 25-17, 15-9 comeback against top-seeded Liberty in the final. She finished her second complete varsity season with 304 kills and 50 blocks. Signed with Arizona of the Pac-12.

All-Bee girls volleyball Coach of the Year: Christina Nelson

All-Bee girls volleyball First Team, Honorable Mention

The reporter can be reached at nickg@fresnobee.com, (559) 441-6103 or @NickG_FB on Twitter.

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