MacKenzie Biggs has played in the shadow of the WPIAL's most talented female athlete throughout her volleyball career at Hopewell High School, but it hasn't bothered this Vikings senior.
In fact, Biggs is creating a fine reputation for herself. She certainly doesn't resent the publicity and acclaim heaped upon her talented teammate, Shatori Walker-Kimbrough, a three-sport star who accepted a basketball scholarship to the University of Maryland.
"It's a lot of fun playing with Shatori," said Biggs. "We've been playing so long together that we communicate well on the floor. We complement each other well."
At 6 feet 1, Biggs is the tallest player on Hopewell's roster, an inch taller than the highly touted Walker-Kimbrough.
"We have MacKenzie in the front row when Shatori rotates to the back row," Hopewell coach Terry Borkovic said. "With that lineup, we can have one of the two in the front row at all times."
Walker-Kimbrough is a four-year starter who has been voted first-team All-WPIAL Class AA the past two years. She's also been recognized on the Pennsylvania Volleyball Coaches Association All-State Team the past two years.
"Shatori is the most dynamic athlete in the WPIAL," Borkovic said. "She's a star athlete in all three sports [volleyball, basketball and track]."
Biggs is a four-year letter-winner and three-year starter who was a third-team All-WPIAL selection last year.
"MacKenzie has been playing club ball since she was in seventh grade," Borkovic said. "She's a powerful hitter whose been getting some [NCAA] Division I interest."
With Walker-Kimbrough and Biggs leading the way, Hopewell has been ranked No. 1 in the state all season. The Vikings are seeded No. 1 in the WPIAL Class AA Tournament and are two steps closer to defending the WPIAL title they won last season.
Hopewell opened the playoffs with a 3-0 sweep of Derry Area last Thursday, then faced Elizabeth Forward in Wednesday's quarterfinals. The Vikings will play either Indiana or Seton-LaSalle in tonight's semifinals.
"We're very fortunate to have both in our lineup," Borkovic said. "It's much tougher for an opponent to defend against us. They can't put their best blockers against both of them."
Biggs and her teammates have reached one goal by finishing unbeaten in Section 1-AA.
"Defending our WPIAL title is the next goal," said Biggs, who has set her sights on something even bigger. "The ultimate goal is to win a PIAA title."
Hopewell had one of the strongest teams in the state last season, but the Vikings saw their season come to a surprising end in the quarterfinal round robin at the PIAA tournament.
"We were in the same quarterfinal pool with the two teams that made it to the championship match," said Biggs, referring to 2011 PIAA champion Brandywine Heights and runner-up Southern Lehigh. "We finished in a three-way tie, but lost the tiebreaker. It was so upsetting to get that far and have it end that way."
If Hopewell is fortunate enough to earn another PIAA berth, the Vikings will find a different format. The PIAA has switched to match play for the entire state tournament, thus eliminating the quarterfinal round robin.
"I like [match-play format] much better," Biggs said. "It's much better to have one opponent on which to concentrate.
"Playing three matches [as was the case with the round robin] in one day is tiring."
Biggs would like to play in college, but hasn't made a choice.
"I'm undecided. I've narrowed it down to Clarion and [California University of Pennsylvania] as the top two choices, and Seton Hill is also in the picture," said Biggs. "Winning WPIAL and PIAA titles would open a few more [recruiting] doors for me and my teammates."
Biggs will also join Walker-Kimbrough on the basketball team.
"I played basketball until last season," Biggs said. "I wanted to concentrate more on volleyball to improve my chances of playing in college, so I sat out last season. But now it's my senior year and I've decided to come back [to the basketball team]. I'm really looking forward to it."