PHILIPPI — Philip Barbour’s two-time state champion and three-time all-state member MacKenna Halfin was as soon as lower from a volleyball staff, when you can consider it.
By her mother, Philip Barbour coach Heather Halfin, actually.
“Mother lower me once I was in fifth grade making an attempt out for a seventh-grade volleyball staff,” MacKenna mentioned. “I used to be mad at her for some time.”
Coach Halfin, all these years later, has a protection.
“She was two years youthful and had by no means performed organized volleyball,” Heather remembered. “She had picked up a volleyball one million occasions, however she was amongst some fairly proficient women.”
Heather instructed MacKenna the phrases that the majority dad and mom say when their child reels from being lower:
“Michael Jordan received lower too,” she mentioned.
MacKenna set to work.
“She did let me follow with them,” MacKenna mentioned of that staff. “Rising up within the Philip Barbour volleyball household, I at all times felt like I had a bunch of older sisters. The women would at all times move with me or train me tips on how to do various things.”
“She didn’t cease,” Heather mentioned. “She let me know day by day that she was not part of the staff and that it was my fault.”
Lifting two state championships and a state runner-up, recording 1,444 kills and being named captain of the Class AA all-state first staff for 2023, MacKenna’s record of accomplishments is usually unbelievable.
“That was my first loss ever within the Civic Heart,” the junior mentioned in reflection of her third state title match.
So as to add to her record, Halfin was named the 2023 West Virginia Excessive College Volleyball Participant of the 12 months, chosen by the West Virginia Sports activities Writers Affiliation.
“I can not even describe what this implies to me,” MacKenna mentioned. “I’ve cherished volleyball my entire life, and to win one thing this huge is a dream come true.”
She is the second Colt, becoming a member of 2018 winner McKenzie Carpenter, to win the award.
Halfin might be acknowledged on the 77th annual Victory Awards Dinner on Could 5, 2024 at River Metropolis in Wheeling.
Coach Halfin shed her title when she realized her daughter received the award. It was time to be a mother.
“I cried like a child,” Heather mentioned. “As a mother, I cried for my child. That is a kind of issues that you just sort of dream about in your youngsters. It’s unreal.”
She made MacKenna a tray of brownies, “Participant of the 12 months” written in icing on prime, and flowers to shock her with the information.
“When she checked out it, she was like, ‘I received it?’ She was simply — wow,” Heather mentioned.
MacKenna remembers using in ball carts and studying fundamentals from older Philip Barbour gamers.
“McKenna DeLancey from Ritchie County babysat me at tourneys,” MacKenna mentioned.
DeLancey was the volleyball participant of the yr winner in 2015.
“We joked that perhaps having the identical identify would make me simply nearly as good as her in the future,” MacKenna mentioned.
She noticed a lot of the Colts’ success, 5 state championships since 2015.
“I keep in mind being in Charleston watching Mother and her groups play at states and win,” MacKenna mentioned. “I keep in mind being so excited to play on that court docket, considering in the future that it could be me down there profitable all of it.”
MacKenna’s numbers are strong. Halfin recorded 605 kills in 135 units. It’s good for over 4 kills per set. Over 35% of her assaults finish in a kill.
It’s simple to surprise how she does it.
“I do numerous vertical coaching, conditioning and weightlifting within the offseason,” Halfin mentioned of what it takes. “I met an exceptional coach at a camp named Ray (Grey). He’s given me exercise packages to assist me put together bodily.”
Mentally, Halfin’s potential to neglect any missed possibilities and instantly go for an additional swing is what makes her elite. There isn’t a misplaced energy.
“He taught me that coaching my mind and being proper mentally is simply as necessary as being ready on the surface,” MacKenna mentioned of Grey.
All of the whereas, she has had coaches pushing her to achieve success — together with Mother.
“Being the coach’s daughter will not be at all times enjoyable,” MacKenna mentioned. “She’s at all times more durable on me than anybody else — a minimum of plainly means. As I’ve gotten older, I do know that she is simply exhausting on me as a result of she needs me to be the perfect. If she wasn’t, I do know that I’d not be half the participant I’m as we speak.”
Heather finds limitless potential.
“I’ve been round volleyball for a very long time, and she or he’s probably the greatest that I’ve ever seen,” coach Halfin mentioned. “Cameron Yoho from Tyler Consolidated went on to play for Marshall. She was phenomenal. As quickly as MacKenna began taking part in, I used to be like, ‘Gosh, that’s who she is.’ She jogs my memory a lot of the best way that she performed.”
MacKenna additionally led her staff in digs in 2023 with 491.
It’s frequent for her to defend the assault, soar out to the road after which make the kill. She hardly ever leaves the court docket.
“One factor lots of people don’t learn about me is that I really like taking part in again row,” MacKenna mentioned. “Everybody sees the hit, however my mother has at all times preached to us that it begins within the again.”
“She’s very defense-oriented,” coach Halfin mentioned. “I like that about her as a participant. Generally you will have stable front-row gamers and good back-row gamers. You don’t see numerous gamers which can be good at each.”
MacKenna joined teammate Katie Kennedy, help chief, on the all-state first staff.
“My setters over the previous couple of years have been nice,” MacKenna mentioned. “With out them, I actually wouldn’t be as profitable as I’m. They put numerous religion in me to do a job, and I do my finest to attempt to not allow them to down. I recognize them a lot.”
Others thought of for the award embrace Greenbrier East’s Dia Sauvage, Wayne’s Gabby Elliott, Musselman’s Ada McCoy, Williamstown’s Claire Strobl, Oak Glen’s Ashlyn Six and Bridgeport’s Myleigh Odor.
“Over the past three years, I’ve performed with and towards so many nice gamers from throughout the state, so to be named the perfect is the largest honor a participant can obtain,” MacKenna mentioned. “I really feel like all these very worthy gamers helped drive me to turn into the perfect participant I will be.”
Halfin nonetheless has a senior season to play, eyeing a 3rd state title.
“This can be a lot of stress to win this award as a junior,” she mentioned. “That simply implies that I have to work even more durable subsequent yr to be even higher.”
Within the meantime, she is specializing in swim season and membership volleyball. Collegiate volleyball is the purpose, however she can be open to swimming on the subsequent degree.
“I’m taking part in for RISE volleyball this yr on their 17’s nationwide staff,” MacKenna mentioned. “I’m additionally swimming this yr. Final yr, I positioned third within the state within the 50 free. This yr, I need to win it.”
Wanting again, MacKenna remembers her freshman-season teammates as influences to her current success. Most of them had been on that seventh-grade staff that she practiced with.
“Once I was a freshman, I had some superior older women who took me beneath their wing and had been like older sisters to me — big function fashions,” MacKenna mentioned.
She seems now to be the identical — an inspiration to a youthful technology.
“Now, I’m the upperclassman, and I need to do all I can to steer my youthful teammates and be a job mannequin to them. I really like my PBVB household,” she mentioned. “I need to be the perfect for each myself and my staff.”
In some ways, although, she already has.
Maybe the wide-eyed youngsters from Kasson, Belington and Philippi who miss an early lower for volleyball can hear one thing like this:
MacKenna Halfin received lower, too.
BY TYLER KENNETT/WV NEWS