Saturday, July 02, 2022

Former Gonzaga volleyball player to play in Finland

Herald Sports Staff | June 21, 2022 4:23 PM

SPOKANE - Former Bulldog Cara McKenzie is heading to Finland to start her professional career with Polkky Kuusamo, the reigning champions of the top Finnish volleyball league, according to a press release.

"It's always been my dream to play professionally overseas, and I'm incredibly grateful for this opportunity and the support I've received along the way," McKenzie said. "I'm very excited to play with and against some incredible athletes and I'm excited for the growth from competing at this level."

The Belchertown, Massachusetts native will be one of three Americans on the Kuusamo roster. The team, according to Volleybox, was ranked 67th in the world after going 40-7 last season and taking home the Finnish Cup and league championship titles.

McKenzie came to Spokane as a grad transfer from Adelphi University, a Division II school on Long Island in New York. She said she wanted to show she could shine on the Division I level, and backed that up with a stellar season. The six-foot-one middle blocker finished with the third-best hitting percentage in team history (.309), her 68 blocks were a team-high, the third-most kills (191) and points (242) on the team and finished with only 60 errors. She was awarded with an honorable mention on the All-West Coast Conference list last season.

"I'm going to miss just about everything about GU," McKenzie said. "I think what I will miss most is the people. I have made the most meaningful relationships with my teammates and it's hard to think I won't be seeing them every day anymore. They are people I'm going to have in my life forever and I'm beyond grateful Gonzaga brought them into my life."

Kuusamo will be competing in the European Champions League this season. Training camp begins in August, followed by the regular season in October. McKenzie said she looks forward to adapting to a new play style and living in a new part of the world.

"I like to stay consistent with what I'm doing and what I know works for me," she said. "I'm incredibly thankful for my coaching staff and trainers for their guidance and helping me feel prepared to head to the next level. I want to keep progressing and be the best version of myself when I get there."

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