CHS grad home after winning volleyball title
Natalie Anderson is enjoying her “time off” after helping the University of Tampa volleyball team win the NCAA Division II National Championship earlier this month.
But there’s really no time off for the Carson High graduate who just completed her freshman season at Tampa. Even though Anderson is home on Christmas break, she still has to work out every day.
Then when she returns to school she’ll be practicing twice a week and lifting during the “off season.” The off season continues during the summer in which Tampa and Anderson will head out for a 10-day tour in Europe.
And it will be intense training for the rest of the summer. Anderson said she’ll be given “a real detailed workout play we have to follow” for the summer.
Anderson redshirted during her freshman year at Tampa after pulling and then re-pulling both of her quads earlier in the season. But she was still a key part of the national championship run as the setter for the red team which would face the black team, which consisted of the starting lineup, regularly during practice.
Anderson said the red team definitely pushed the black team and was even able to beat the black team at times. “I think that we were some of their best competition,” Anderson said. “I think we definitely helped to keep them prepared.”
When asked if she believed the red team could have made the NCAA Tournament, Anderson paused and then said, “yes.”
The red team was also responsible for running the plays of Tampa’s opponents.
Anderson will be a redshirt freshman next season and the plan is for her to serve as the backup setter to starting setter Sammy Mueller, who will be a senior next year, and to get as much playing time as possible. If everything goes as planned Anderson will take over as the starting setter for Mueller as a redshirt sophomore when Mueller graduates.
Anderson said she believes she’s been able to push Mueller. “She’s definitely been a mentor for me,” Anderson said. “She helps me off and on the court. She helps me better my technique.”
About the season Anderson said “it was a crazy season. The whole season we were considered underdogs.”
That was until the Elite Eight when Tampa was the No. 1 seed. The Spartans went on to beat Western Washington in a thrilling five-game match for the national championship, winning the fifth game 15-11.
It was Anderson’s freshman roommate, Claudia Rivera, who served on match point. The Spartans would go on to receive a free ball from Western Washington and once outside hitter Katie McKiel got ready for the kill, Anderson said, “We knew we won it. We were just waiting for the ball to drop.
“I don’t think it really sunk in actually. It’s just what you do. We play volleyball. It’s just what we do.”
Anderson said Tampa coach Chris Catanach kept the team focused. “‘Go 1-0. Go 1-0 on the day,’” said Anderson about what Catanach would tell the team. “‘One point at a time. One match at a time. You have to get through today or there won’t be tomorrow.’”
And Anderson said Tampa is no longer the underdog. With most of the starters returning, Anderson said “we definitely set ourselves up as the top team. We definitely have a target on our back.”