Anna Wolf is a 6’4” Middle Blocker from River Falls, WI and Minnesota Select Volleyball Club. She led her high school team to a 138-12 record and 4 straight trips to the state tournament. In spite of an injury in her junior season and a shortened senior season, Anna finished her high school career with 668 kills, 155 blocks and a .464 hitting percentage. She was a four-time All-Conference selection, was named to PrepVolleyball.com’s Top 50 Junior recruits and was First-Team All-State as a senior. Anna is part of a very strong class of incoming freshmen for the Gopher volleyball program. I caught up with Anna to understand her decision to play volleyball at Minnesota and her expectations for the upcoming season.
You suffered an injury in your junior year of high school. What was the injury and what has the recovery process been like?
I was diagnosed with a bulging disk in my lower back. I had been struggling with it for a few years before I finally went to the doctor. They told me that I needed to take care of the injury, which involved a lot of physical therapy to strengthen the muscles around it. I was out for half of the season in my junior year of high school. The injury got better, but it started bothering me again during club volleyball season. The week that I was cleared to return was the week that everything got shut down for COVID, so I ended up only playing in one club tournament that season.
High school and club volleyball are two different animals. What lessons did you learn from high school volleyball? What lessons did you learn from club volleyball?
In high school volleyball, I learned about leadership and the need to step up and do whatever the team needed. I played both middle blocker and right side. I was lucky to be on a very competitive high school team that went to the state tournament all 4 years. My club experience was very different because I had to drive 40 minutes for 3 years to practice, then 75 minutes to practice when I played for Minnesota Select. I would get home at 11:30 at night, which made me realize how much I love the sport and how much it means to me.
Tell me about the recruiting process, what other schools did you consider and what made you decide that the University of Minnesota was the right place for you?
I remember being recruited by Minnesota during my freshman year of high school. I really didn’t know what to expect in the recruiting process. I knew all along that Minnesota is where I wanted to be. It’s been my dream school since 3rd grade, which is when I went to my first Gopher volleyball game. I looked at some other Big 10 schools, but all along, I knew that this is the place I wanted to be.
For Gopher volleyball fans that didn’t have a chance to see you play in HS or in club, what should they know about you?
I get pretty nervous before the games. I’ve learned to deal with it. I want to always put my best foot forward and do whatever is best for the team, whether it be cheering from the bench or doing my job on the court.
What are you expecting from the first week of practice?
I’m excited to just have that normal a pre-season. Since I graduated early, I had the opportunity to hear about how it was different last year. I’m looking forward to the sense of normalcy, to be able to be in the gym with the coaches and the team. The schedule is very busy, which is something that I need to be aware of.
The Gophers early-season schedule is tough (Baylor, Texas, Florida, Stanford, Oregon). What was the reaction from you and your teammates when you saw the schedule?
We are excited! Last year, the season was so different with COVID. It will be fun to play people outside of the conference, to see what other teams are like without just relying on what we see on film. We are all very excited for the challenge.
What do you like to do when volleyball season is over?
I like to fill my time with art, both painting and drawing. I also love cooking and baking. I enjoy taking the time to have a little bit of time to myself.
Who are the people that have had the biggest influence on you?
I would definitely say my parents, who have been super supportive and have always been there for me. I would also say my high school coach, who has taught me a lot about leadership and how to be a good competitor. Also, my 14s club coach. I would definitely not be where I am today without all his help. He really pushed me to be my best.
What are you studying at the University of Minnesota?
In January, I started on the elementary education path. But, recently, I’m not sure that it’s the right path for me. I’m thinking something on the business side and still have some time to decide.