McKenzie Baeseman

Royall's McKenzie Baeseman was recently named to the all-state second team by the Wisconsin Volleyball Coaches Association. She had previously been an honorable mention in 2015 and 2016.

KEVIN DAMASK, Star-Times

McKenzie Baeseman had already solidified herself as one of the best volleyball players in Royall history, but her most recent accolade is something no other player in the history of the Scenic Bluffs Conference had accomplished before.

Baeseman was recently named to the all-state second team by the Wisconsin Volleyball Coaches Association (WVCA), becoming the first volleyball player from a school within the Scenic Bluffs Conference to be placed that high on the all-state team. She was previously an honorable mention on the WVCA all-state team the past two years.

“I was really surprised,” Baeseman said of receiving the honor. “I was not expecting it. I’ve been an honorable mention the past couple years, so that’s kind of what I was expecting again this year. So to find out I was second team was really, really exciting.”

For Baeseman, it is just the latest accolade in a decorated career.

She was recently named the Scenic Bluffs Player of the Year for a second consecutive season and earned her fourth appearance on the all-conference team. Baeseman was also a part of Royall teams that won four conference titles and a trio of regional championships, in addition to being the program’s career leader in several statistical categories.

“She’s really helped out (the program),” said Royall head coach Craig Baeseman, who is also McKenzie’s father. “She’s going to be the most decorated person to ever come through here — part of four conference championship teams, three regional championship teams, the all-time leader in kills and assists. She’s in the top three of blocks, aces, digs — every statistical category. She’s just really been a joy to have.”

The Panthers will obviously miss her statistical contributions on the court after she graduates, but Craig believes the veteran leadership she brought to the team will be tough to replace as well.

“The obvious answer (to what Royall will miss most) would be her kills, but I also really think we’re going to miss her leadership,” he said. “When things are down, she was always the person we would look to just to try and bring things back together. She kept very composed in tough situations and was kind of our go-to girl. She was all over the floor and a steady influence. That’s going to be hard to replace.”

All the success and accolades, her father notes, is a culmination of a life around the sport that helped mold her into the player she became.

“I think part of it is just her knowledge of the game,” he said. “She’s been around the game since she was born and had been in the gym helping out as a ball girl for some of those regional championship teams when she was really young. She’s been playing since she was in club ball at 12.”

Though McKenzie had opportunities to continue her volleyball career in college, she has opted to travel across the globe to study music at Hillsong College in Sydney, Australia.

“She’s had some opportunities, some options to (continue her volleyball career), but she’s decided that she is going to pursue other options,” her father said. “She is in our worship band at church and she has the opportunity to go to Australia and go to the Hillsong College, which is the top college in the world for that sort of thing. It was a tough decision for her, but she’s decided that she’s not going to play and move on to pursue music in Australia.”

McKenzie knows she will miss certain aspects of playing the sport she has been around her whole life, but is also thankful for the memories volleyball has given her over the years.

“I’ll miss the team aspect of it,” she said. “I’ve been on a couple really good teams and I’m really thankful for all of them and I’ll miss playing with all of them. Obviously I’ll miss the game too, but I think I’ll miss playing with the people more.”

“(My four years at Royall) have meant a lot. Going into it I never would’ve guessed that my volleyball career would end up the way it did. It’s been really great and I’ve had great teams and great coaching. It’s been really fun and I loved every minute.”