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Iowa State Student-Athlete Spotlight: Mary Bisenius
September 23, 2008

By: Grant Wall
Big 12 Campus Correspondent


Mary Bisenius has paid her dues, waiting in the wings for her chance to shine as a member of the Iowa State volleyball team.


After backing up Katie Jessen, Erin Boeve and Nicole Lorenzen, who are all three in the Top 10 in school history in attacks, Bisenius is getting her chance.


That chance is coming as the Iowa State program continues to rise nationally. The Cyclones are coming off their first ever Sweet 16 appearance last season, and coach Christy Johnson signed a top-25 recruiting class for the first time in school history that is already making their presence felt on the court.


“People have high expectations for us,” Bisenius said. “We know that we have to come out hard every practice and keep working.”


Working hard comes naturally for Bisenius. She originally planned to walk on at the University of Northern Iowa. That changed when Iowa State hired Johnson. 


“She was looking for an outside hitter,” Bisenius said of her path to Ames from her Sioux City hometown. “She had scholarships available and she offered me one.”


Playing for Johnson at a school that offers one of the top design programs in the nation was a combination Bisenius couldn't refuse.


“With coach Johnson’s past, she really knows what she’s doing. She was very determined to turn this team around,” Bisenius said. “I could really picture myself playing for her.”


Bisenius was an athletic hitter that Johnson could develop.


“She came in not really skilled, she was a great athlete who hadn’t played a lot of volleyball,” Johnson said. “Her first two years were about learning and she’s done just that. She’s slowly improved over the last couple years and really came into her own last season.


“She was a raw athlete, but she showed great potential. We knew that she might not be ready to play right away, but we knew that she could grow into a great player for us.”


After playing in just nine matches during her freshmen and sophomore seasons, Bisenius transitioned into a major force as a junior.  She had double-digit kills in nine of the Cyclone’s first 15 matches, including a career-high 17 against an LSU team ranked No. 21.


Her strong play continued through the postseason, recording nine kills in an upset of Wisconsin in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.


“She’s our glue,” Johnson said. “She plays all the way around, passes in every rotation and is another offensive option. When she’s playing well the team is usually playing well. The role she plays for us is as important as any other player on the team.”


Bisenius’ strong play has carried over to this season. She earned Most Valuable Player honors at the Iowa State Tournament in September with 29 kills in three games.


The Cyclones have their sights set on another post-season run. Bisenius is part of the successful present and hopes to be a bridge to greater achievements in the years ahead.


Iowa State is one of the up-and-coming programs in the nation,” she said. “Hopefully as seniors we’re showing the freshmen what to do. I know this team is capable of doing big things in the future.”


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