Regardless of how the Mission Roadrunners senior girls varsity team fares at the AAAA provincials in Penticton this weekend, team captain Makenzie Rourke’s volleyball journey isn’t quite over.
The Grade 12 student has starred in the sport for years at both the high school and club level, and will now be taking her talents to the East Coast in the fall.
Rourke committed to the St. Mary’s University Huskies earlier this year, and will join her sister Jamie Rourke at the Halifax school.
“It’s going to be a big change but I’m excited to get out there,” Rourke said.
She said she had a few choices of interested schools, but wanted to get the chance to play with her sister.
“We just missed out on playing with each other in high school,” she said, noting they are five years apart. “So I think it’s going to be a lot of fun to play with her but we’re also going to be living together and I’m really looking forward to that.”
Makenzie followed her older sister’s footsteps into the Abbotsford 2016 B.C. Summer Games, where she helped the Fraser Valley team earn a bronze. Jamie and the Fraser Valley team in 2012 took home silver. The only difference is that Jamie starred for Hatzic Secondary, while Makenzie emerged as a top player while at Mission Secondary.
Senior girls head coach Andrew Hale said it’s been a pleasure coaching Makenzie and seeing her develop into an elite volleyball talent.
“It’s been a joy,” he said, of his time coaching her. “Her maturity really stands out. She has all of the tools to excel at the next level but what I really like about her is that she is an honest player. She accepts responsibility and puts the team on her back – she’s a leader and that’s why we chose her to be captain.”
Hale said one of Makenzie’s best skills at the high school level is her versatility. He said she has the ability to play any position on the floor, and is incredibly skilled defensively. With the Huskies, Makenzie will get the chance to move away from her usual setter position and play libero.
“I have the confidence in her to put her anywhere but, at the next level for a setter, her size could be an issue,” he said, noting that Makenzie would be undersized against other college athletes. “But I think she’ll be a great fit at that position at SMU, and I think she’s going to do great things at that level.”
The Huskies, who compete in the Atlantic University Sport conference in U Sports, finished the regular season last year in second place in the conference at 14-6, but fell in the semifinals. So far this season the club has a 5-4 record and sits in third place.
Makenzie and the Roadrunners are looking to build off a solid seventh-place finish at the 2017 provincials, and opened the event against Riverside, Burnaby North and Belmont on Thursday. Mission wraps up pool play against North Peace today at 9:45 a.m. Playoffs open on Friday afternoon, with the provincial champion being crowned on Saturday evening.
For more on the event, visit bcschoolsports.ca/championship/volleyball-girls-aaaa.