When you read every single boxscore every day all volleyball season, you notice things.
When you have a last name like mine, you notice names.
This started out with South Carolina having two Mikaylas, Mikayla Shields and Mikayla Robinson. It’s not lost on them nor the South Carolina sports information folks. They didn’t have to stage the photo of them for us. It was taken a while back.
Really, what are the chances of having two Mikaylas on the same team?
Mikayla Shields is a 6-foot senior right side from Orlando. Mikayla Robinson is a 6-2 junior middle from Illinois. They’re both pretty good, too: Mikayla Shields leads South Carolina in kills and Mikayla Robinson is second. And Mikayla Robinson leads in blocks and Mikayla Shields is third.
But then all these other Mikaylas started showing up. And they’re not all spelled the same, but here you go in no particular order:
— Mikayla Vivens is a junior outside hitter from San Antonio at Houston Baptist.
— Mikayla Kuhlmann is a senior outside hitter from St. Louis who plays at Southeast Missouri.
— Makayla Wolfe is a senior middle from Corona, California, who plays at UC Irvine.
— Makayla Lewis is a freshman from Fresno, California, who plays at San Jose State. She has many teammates with very different names, like Latahevai Lousi, Thalania Grajeda, Kaitlynn Zdroik, Taumafa Tuinauvai, Sarah Smevog, and Yazmin Pitpit. And before you ask, no, none of them are foreigners.
— Makayla Doyle is a senior middle from Dubuque, Iowa, who plays at Winthrop. She has a teammate, Savannah Roper, but more on the Savannahs later.
— Makayla Serrett is a freshman middle from River Edge, N.J., who plays at Georgetown.
— Makayla Bradford is a junior DS from Gardena, California, who plays at CSUN.
— Makala Heidelburg, from Winter Garden, Florida, is a sophomore outside at Tulane.
— Makaila Jarema is a senior middle from Highland Utah who plays at Utah Valley.
— Mikaila Dowd is a sophomore outside from Naperville, Illinois, who plays at Georgia Tech. She has a teammate named Maddie Tippett, but she’s a DS and probably doesn’t get to tip much.
There may be other Mikaylas or someone with a similar name in NCAA volleyball, but those are the ones I recall.
In case you’re wondering, here are all 10:
OK, I mentioned the Savannahs. It’s not an uncommon name, but there’s one of my favorites of all-time, the inspirational Savannah Rennie, a senior middle from Torrey Pines who is winding down her career at Cal. There’s Savannah Slattery, the senior outside for Loyola Marymount, and Savannah Sheridan, a junior outside hitter for Southern Illinois. And also Savannah Davison at NM State, who is a sophomore right side from Toronto.
Why her? There’s no second “d” in her last name, one of those things you just have to remember during a long season. Like it’s Kirstie, not Kristie, Hillyer, the big-time senior middle at Colorado State.
Of course Savannah State University, which plays in the MEAC, has no one named Savannah.
There are names I love, like Amethyst Harper, a freshman outside from Fresno who plays at Montana. There’s Utah Valley sophomore outside Kazna Tarawhiti from Lehi, Utah. And Valerie Valerian, a junior outside from Sugar Land, Texas, who plays at North Texas.
The toughest name to pronounce — and even type — is that of Utah setter Saige Ka’aha’aina-Torres, a freshman from Hawai’i. Hollann Hans, the fabulous senior outside for Texas A&M, has a great name. So does Texas State senior outside Cheyenne Huskey and Charlotte senior libero Yumi Garcia. I can only wonder how many times I misspelled Cortney VanLiew’s name, the junior outside for FGCU. (Confession: I somehow forgot the next one, but it was in my notes, so I added it after this story was already posted). And how about Member Leketor-Meneh, the Missouri junior outside hitter from St. Louis?
And then there was the time last year when I screwed up on the McKennas, calling McKenna Melville, the star sophomore outside for UCF, McKenna Miller. No, McKenna Miller is the senior All-American outside at BYU. There other McKennas, too, like Hawai’i senior outside McKenna Ross and Eastern Washington who has — different spelling — Makenna Davis. She has a freshman teammate named Ka’ehukaiiha’amaina’e Keala, who is a middle from Hawai’i. Of course, that’s a mouthful, so she goes by “Eh-who Kae-awla”.
Boston College has sophomore Mackenzie Fuhrmann and senior Makenzie Morrison. And there are a ton of NCAA players with variations of that name, including Michigan senior setter Mackenzi Welsh.
Give the Rachels — that’s Rachel without an a — their due.
Murray State has three Rachels, including Rachel Giustino, who is second in the NCAA in kills. Rachel Tullious is a freshman for Houston who leads the NCAA in total blocks.
Here are the Rachels I have:
— Giustino, who is from Algonquin, Illinois, is a senior outside at Murray State.
— Rachel Holthaus, from Winona, Missouri, is a senior right side at Murray State.
— Rachel Kinney, from Indianapolis, is a sophomore outside at Murray State.
— Tullious, a freshman middle for Houston, is from Lantana Texas.
— Rachel Sanks, from Alexandria, Virginia, is a senior outside at Buffalo.
— Rachel Ahrens is from Trabuco Canyon, California, who is a sophomore right side/middle at Pepperdine.
— Rachel Tam, who is from Hong Kong, is a 5-9 senior outside at Evansville who had 39 kills in a five-set match this season and 34 in a four-setter.
— Rachel Young, from Frisco, Texas, is a 6-1 sophomore middle for Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.
— Rachel Maguire, from Bloomington, Illinois, is a junior outside at Southern Illinois.
There are also two Nemeths. Anett is a star sophomore opposite from Hungary, but Rebekah Nemeth, a senior right side at Yale, is from Kingwood, Texas.
And finally there’s Kentucky, which currently has two Skinners, coach Craig Skinner and outside hitter Avery Skinner, a junior from Katy, Texas. They’re not related. But Avery is related to Madi Skinner, who signed with Kentucky. That’s her little sister. So next year they’ll have three Skinners.
If only they had three Madisons … oh, wait.
Kentucky already had Madison Lilley, the junior setter who actually goes by Madison. At least the younger Skinner goes by Madi and the other one, freshman libero Madison Berezowitz, goes by Maddie.
Finally there are the Kenzies, like Utah junior outside Kenzie Koerber and Nebraska freshman libero Kenzie Knuckles, who replaced Nebraska libero Kenzie Maloney. And not far away at Omaha there’s a DS named Kenzie Michael. Iowa State has freshman middle Kenzie Mantz and Tennessee-Martin has junior setter Kenzie Hinshaw.
She has a sister named Makayla.
Editor’s note: If we missed a Mikayla, Savannah, or Rachel, let us know in the comments.