Volleyball's Allison Anderson Reflects On Career Highlights
Oct. 5, 2006
Senior captain Allison Anderson of the women's volleyball team was a key player in the Eagles' victory over Maryland on Tuesday. Anderson, a Moraga, CA resident, holds the school's record for most digs in a single season with 706 in 2004.
The Eagles are coming off an impressive win against the Maryland Terrapins with a three-game sweep on Tuesday night. In the second game, your serve was responsible for seven of the team's final nine points, leading a powerful comeback from a 27-21 deficit. Talk about that rally and how the Eagles bounced back from behind in the first two games.
We knew that we were down and that we really needed to push. I was serving, but there were a lot of other things happening. Abigail Hasebroock had a great kill on an overpass, the setter doubled a couple balls, which definitely helped us out, and I think it was just a really big team effort to rally back in that game.
You earned Big East Libero Player of the Year honors in 2004. Can you explain to us what a "libero" is and what her role is? What are the challenges you face playing that position?
It's basically a defensive specialist, so you only play in the back row. I get to wear a cool, different colored jersey and instead of playing only three rotations in the back row I get to play all six and don't count as a sub. I get to go in whenever I want and try to keep the big guys from hitting it.
How has this change in position affected your experience on the court?
Focusing just on defense has definitely helped my playing a lot. I'm able to be a better team leader because I don't have as much to focus on. I can help our offense, tell them where to hit, and then I'm also able to direct the defense a little bit more on the court.
As a freshman, you led the Eagles in kills with 348. As a sophomore, you broke the NCAA record for digs in a match with 57. Some of our readers may not be familiar with some of volleyball's terms - how would you explain "kills" and "digs" to a novice volleyball fan and what makes these some crucial elements in the game of volleyball?
A kill is when a hitter hits a ball down and the opposing team can't get it back over the net, so those are crucial because they end plays and that's what gets us points. Digs are the exact opposite. A dig is when a player stops the ball from hitting the ground. A lot of people call it a bump, but basically it's just a defensive move.
You've been a team captain since your sophomore year. What do you believe is the role of a team captain? What are some things you try to accomplish in this role - on and off the court?
One of the things that Andrea Leonard has been really instrumental in telling us is that a captain and a leader on a team isn't necessarily the best player. It's the player that makes everyone else around her better, so that's the one thing that I've really tried to do these past couple years. One of my biggest goals is to make sure that we're a team not only on the court but also off the court and I think we've done a really good job of fostering a family atmosphere.
They're all dynamic in very different ways. Taylor is a pure athlete with an incredible jump. Dana is a really dynamic player, too, and so is Meghan. I think Meghan jump-touches over ten feet, so I think they're all very dynamic, very athletic players and they all really add a lot right now and will continue to add a lot.
BC Volleyball won an ACC Sportsmanship Award last fall, an award recognizing a team's "high degree of character and good sportsmanship". The awards, which are given to one team in each ACC sport, are voted on by the league's players and coaches. What did earning this award mean to the team?
It made us all really happy because I think it was a reflection on our character. We try really hard to give BC a good image and to make sure we're classy people on and off the court, so it was nice to be recognized for that.
Volleyball has more matches during the season than many other sports, with more than 30 scheduled this year, each of which can include three to five games. How does the team maintain stamina/keep its focus from September through late November?
We've all been working hard to make sure we maintain a mental focus, so it starts in pre-season and everyone brings each other along. When someone else loses focus you bring your teammate along.
Can you share with us some insight into methods your team uses off the court - things like conditioning, nutrition, the mental game and/or use of video?
We have a very strict nutrition plan, which we all work really hard to follow and I think it gives us a sense of pride on and off the court. We work to condition our bodies, we do off-season conditioning and then weight-lifting, pool training, running, jump training. We have a sports psychologist that we work with to help us with our mental game, so I think all that combines to help us have a well-rounded game.
You and Coach Leonard arrived at Boston College at the same time. What can you tell us about Coach Leonard - her personality, her style? What about the assistant coaches?
Andrea is an exceptional coach. She's one of those people who helps you to not only be a better player but also a better person. She's really turned this program around, completely turned it around. BC volleyball was a completely different team before she came and she really instilled a sense of accomplishment and pride and success in us. Our first twenty-win season in the program's history was with Andrea. In terms of our assistant coaches, Kristen Shockley is new this year and she's a great addition. She came from Dartmouth and has really helped with setting, defense, all around game and is incredible at scouting. The same thing [is true about] Kin Yun. This is his first real season here, even though he has helped out a little bit [in the past]. He's mostly helped the defense and he's phenomenal with it, really challenges us. Laura Johnson, one of our volunteer assistants, is a former national team player. She's a phenomenal setter who works with our setters and is really great in terms of the cerebral part of the game.
Two years ago, you talked about the special feeling of "just putting on that uniform and knowing that that number is yours...in that Boston College jersey". What is your perspective now that you are wearing number 11 for a final year?
Wow. It's kind of sad. I get a little nostalgic about it every time I put it on. I think "well this is the last time I'll be playing Clemson at home", things like that. But I still have that overwhelming sense of pride when I put it on because I know that it's mine and it's great to represent BC and to represent the fourteen other people on the team, so it's nice.
Are there any moments in your four years of playing here at BC that stand out more than others?
Absolutely. Beating Notre Dame in my sophomore year and last year's win against Clemson were huge. I think those are the two that I'll carry with me. Clemson last year was our first ACC win, so it was the first ACC win for BC Volleyball ever and it was a complete team effort. And then Notre Dame, it was the first time they had been beaten at home in something like 24 years, so it was huge.
What are your plans after Boston College?
I'm applying to law school, so that's maybe up in the air, maybe beach volleyball, maybe playing abroad, I'm just going to see what happens.
What makes Boston College volleyball special? What do you see in the program's future?
What makes it special is pretty much the people, the team, the coaches, the administration, everyone's really behind each other. We're one hundred percent a family. In terms of the future, they have nowhere to go but up. I can't wait to come back and see BC playing in the NCAA Championship - it's definitely something I can see for them.
Interview conducted by Geoffrey Kehlmann