As she prepares for her senior year of volleyball at Owasso, Mallory Hendrix is poised to be one of the best multi-position players in the state.
It almost seems like this was Mallory Hendrix’s destiny.
She’s been playing volleyball her entire life, initially learning the sport from her older sister, Katie, and developing into a unique, elite double-threat player. Now a senior at Owasso High School, she’s recognized as one of the top players in the state and recently committed to play next year at the University of Central Oklahoma (UCO) in Edmond.
“I started playing volleyball when I was about 8, but I had always been playing, because my older sister played,” Hendrix says.
Playing as a kid with Katie, who is about five years older, Hendrix was used to occupying the court with older kids, and always played her club volleyball with players a year or two older. Competing with the Ultimate Performance Volleyball Club, which is based out of the Tulsa/Jenks area but includes girls from all over, she developed deep bonds with her teammates while frequently traveling to out-of-state tournaments.
“We travel all over,” she says. “We’ve gone to Las Vegas, Arkansas, Texas, Detroit, Indianapolis, Chicago, and Denver. It’s really fun. We’re like best friends. None of us go to the same high schools, so it’s cool to see those people when we play them in school ball.”
As a player, Hendrix has a unique blend of skills, excelling at both setting (putting the ball up for a teammate to slam it) and hitting (spiking the ball for the point), in a sport that usually requires a player to specialize in one or the other. She is elite at both, and that versatility makes her so valuable to her team and difficult for opponents to defend against.
“When I started playing, I was only a setter. I thought that was all I was ever going to do,” Hendrix says. “I realized that if I wanted to play all six [rotation positions], and not come out of the game, I would have to play front row and get good at hitting. So I took a bunch of lessons and worked with my sister and parents. I started hitting for a while, and then hit and set, and then only hit. So I’ve done a little bit of everything.
“It’s fun to do different things in different games. It’s fun to be able to mix it up and not always be doing the same thing.”
Owasso coach Meghann Kannett greatly appreciates being able to utilize Hendrix in different ways.
“Mallory is a great all-around player,” Kannett says. “She is capable of playing any position we’ve asked her to play. For me, she has played middle, right side, and setter. This year, she is going to be playing some back row for us as well. She is a pivotal part of our offense, so she has to be able to hit for us. She is equally important as a setter. I know she can get the ball to our hitters no matter where she is on the court and our hitters count on her to do that.”
Hendrix helped lead the Rams to a big season in 2018, as they went 25-10, winning the Class 6A Regional tournament before falling in the state quarterfinals to eventual state champion Edmond Santa Fe.
She recorded 466 kills, 488 digs, 72 blocks, a team-high 676 assists, and 80 aces last season, stats which highlight her all-around excellence, and led to her being named one of the Tulsa World’s three All-World Player of the Year finalists. And even though the Rams graduated key players from last year’s squad, Hendrix is excited about the new season.
“I think it’s going to be a good season,” she says. “We have some spots to fill. We’re going to be young; we’re going to have a lot of underclassmen playing varsity, which is good. I think we’re going to be able to hang with a lot of people. We’re going to have to get that drive and energy to be able to play our hardest every single game so that we can keep moving forward in the season. I’m excited.”
With Hendrix fulfilling an essential role as a team leader, the Rams will be in good hands.
“Her leadership this year is the best I’ve ever seen from her,” Kannett says. “She has been committed all summer, and I know she is ready to lead our team. She has been a positive influence for our younger kids. My favorite part about Mallory is her willingness to do anything for the team.”
“I always try to be a leader,” Hendrix says, “because I know the setter is always supposed to be a leader on the court. And being a senior, I want to able to be that leader for the younger girls and set a good example for years to come.”
The athleticism that enables Hendrix to be so versatile in volleyball also extends to other sports, as she also plays basketball. She took a couple of years off the hardwood at the urging of her father but returned to hoops last year.
“My dad made me quit basketball before my freshman year because he was worried I was going to get hurt for volleyball,” she says. “I ran track until freshman year as well.”
Even though the Rams didn’t enjoy their best basketball season, going 7-17 before losing in the first round of the regional playoffs, it was an enjoyable experience for Hendrix, who is excited to play again this year.
“I just wanted to do something different,” she says of the decision to play basketball again. “My dad was finally just like, ‘It’s high school, you only get to do it once,’ and I was friends with a lot of the girls who played basketball. We got a couple of new girls last year, so it was fun to do something other than volleyball.”
But all roads eventually lead back to volleyball. Hendrix is excited about her decision to go to UCO next year, although she’s still not sure what area of academics she’ll focus on.
“I wanted somewhere that was close enough to home that I could come back if I needed to or if I needed my parents [Tony and Laura Hendrix], they could get there,” she says. “And I have two sets of grandparents who love watching me play. I wanted to find somewhere that was close enough that they could come if they wanted as well. It’s a great volleyball program [at UCO] and a great school. I love the girls there, and the coaches are great.”
With Hendrix at UCO, her younger sister, Sophie, who will play for the Owasso eighth grade team this year, will keep the Hendrix tradition alive at Owasso, just as Katie, who played at St. Edward’s University in Austin, did before Mallory.
“None of my sisters have ever been on the same school team at the same time,” Mallory says. “But we’re all super close.”
With volleyball at the center of it all.
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