Student Athlete of the Week: Vancleave Volleyball’s Lyndi Bakker

For four consecutive years, the Vancleave volleyball program sat atop class 4A as state champions.

When the Lady Bulldogs were moved up to the 5A ranks this year, the team’s dynasty was in jeopardy. Insert outside hitter Lyndi Bakker and this week’s WXXV Student Athlete of the Week.

Bakker’s leadership coupled with her production on the court helped the Bulldogs to their fifth straight state title.

“It meant a lot just to know that all my hard work actually did pay off. That what I’ve been doing since middle school, it just came true. My dreams have come true and it’s just amazing. It was a great feeling to know that I actually worked hard and got what I wanted.”

It was the fairytale ending to her high school volleyball career that Lyndi Bakker wanted. The outside hitter earned her third-straight state championship, the Lady Bulldogs fifth, and was named MHSAA’s 2021 5A volleyball MVP.

The spotlight comes after years of grinding. Bakker says one of her biggest challenges was fighting for a spot on varsity her sophomore year. “That was hard and it took a lot. Like I had to show that I could be there each and every practice my sophomore year that I was– I wanted that spot a lot. And that took a lot.”

The second biggest challenge came this season. The Lady Bulldogs lost five key players, had a coaching change, moved up to Class 5A, began the season on an eight-game skid, and even trailed two sets in their championship match against Lafayette.

Through the adversity, the Lady Bulldogs remained positive and focused. “We wouldn’t have been where we were if we had the bad attitude or if we didn’t like each other or if we weren’t playing as a team. If we didn’t do any of that, we would just crumble on the court during that third set. But instead, we just stayed together and we worked hard to finish out in the next two sets.”

The senior’s performance on the court, finishing first in kill percent for Class 5A at just under 36 percent, is just as impressive as her performance in the classroom.

Bakker goes from work at Bulldog Nutrition in the morning to her college classes to practice and sometimes to after-school practice. “Manage your time wisely if you plan on being a student athlete and stuff like that, so it can transfer over to college. Oh my gosh, I’m going to miss it so much. Just like the pep rallies and getting to have fun with your friends and stuff.”

Before the volleyball star suits up for the Pirates next fall, Bakker will be making her debut on the softball diamond for the Lady Bulldogs for the first time since seventh grade.

To nominate someone you believe deserves to be featured as News 25’s Student Athlete of the Week, please reach out to Grace Boyles through email (, Facebook (@GraceBBoyles), and Twitter (@GraceBBoyles).

Nominees can participate in any sport and be any age. Make sure to tune in every Wednesday to see which local athlete we spotlight next.

Categories: Student Athlete of the Week