Volleyball is a passion for sisters Juliana and Natalie Anderson.
It’s the only sport they play, and they tackle it with unbridled enthusiasm. There’s rarely that a day goes by in which they aren’t hitting a ball or doing some training.
The tireless work has paid big dividends for Carson High’s volleyball team that compiled a 13-3 Northern Division I volleyball record, which was good for the No. 2 seed out of the Sierra League. The Senators open the postseason Tuesday at 6 p.m. against Reno at Morse Burley Gym.
Juliana, a junior, has 228 kills and a 41.5 kill percentage. She also has recorded 115 digs, third-best on the team. Natalie, just a freshman, has a team-leading 590 assists to go along with 69 digs, 37 kills, 31 aces and 30 blocks.
“The first half of the season I thought I played well, but not so much the last couple of matches,” Juliana said. “I’ve got good feelings about the Reno match, though.”
“At the beginning of the year I was playing better than I am now,” Natalie said. The younger Anderson did struggle a bit against Douglas and was taken out twice in favor of Sarah Christl.
It’s just the second year the sisters have played on the same team, and both insist the first time didn’t really count.
“We played together on a 12-and-under team (for Silver State Volleyball Club),” Juliana said. “I was 11 and she was 9. We were both still learning. This is the first time we’ve played together against good competition.”
Both girls admit they fought a lot in their younger years, but seem to co-exist on the floor a great percentage of the time.
“Before the season started the varsity team told us no sibling rivalry,” Juliana said, laughing. “It hasn’t been that bad. I’m pretty easy going. There have been a couple of times at practice where I’ll tell her I need a better set, and she’ll tell me she’ll need a better pass.”
Make no mistake about it, little sister will stand up to big sister. They used to share a room, and that didn’t work well.
“I told her I didn’t want a present from her one year, I just wanted her to move,” said Natalie, smiling at her big sister. “I told her to move to the guest room.”
“I wasn’t even taking up very much space,” Juliana said. “She was hogging most of the room.”
Older sister eventually moved into her own room.
The duo will have another year together, and both agree it will be easier as both mature. Both admit they are a lot closer now that they are in high school.
Natalie runs the offense, and that puts her in a precarious position. On every play, she’s deciding who’s getting the ball. Not an easy role for a freshman.
“I don’t feel she favors me over anybody else,” Juliana said. “If anything, she makes sure she doesn’t set me too much.”
“I set the hot hitter,” Natalie said. “I’m not going to set her because she’s my sister. She is one of the best hitters on our team. She’s only a few kills behind Jaycie (Roberts).”
Juliana was a dancer in her early elementary years before turning to volleyball.
“My dad said that he knew I would play sports, and he said to play you have to learn how to control your body,” Juliana said
Her first foray into the sport came in fifth grade, and it wasn’t a pleasant experience. The season was a short one, less than six weeks. It had a bitter ending.
“At the end of the season, the coach told me that I could go to the post-season tournament but I wasn’t going to play and it would be a waste of gas,” Juliana said. “She told me that I was never going to be any good. I’d only been playing four weeks. It was a challenge to me.
“I tend to get underestimated a lot. I have always been intelligent, and people think if you’re smart you are not so good in sports.”
When Anderson wears her glasses, she looks scholarly. Don’t let that fool you. She’s an intense competitor on the court, and she has turned into a solid player both at Carson and for Silver State.
She admits to getting caught up in stats early in the year, especially after a 21-kill performance against Reno and another one in the first Damonte game.
“We had a team meeting, and we talked a lot about team chemistry,” Juliana said. “I don’t think it was aimed at me, but I started worrying less about numbers.”
Natalie is coming off a great summer. A week before Far Westerns in Reno, she and Douglas’ Talyn Jackson were invited to go through a high performance tryout put on by Team USA.
“We worked out with the setters (who were 14 and 15),” Natalie said. “We got picked for the A2 team. One of the A1 setters couldn’t participate, so they chose me to go. We went to Oklahoma to train, and then played in a tournament where they had a team from Canada and New Zealand. It helped me a lot. Everybody was at the same skill level. I had to step it up and lead the team.”
Despite the summer success, Natalie still felt she had to prove to coach Robert Maw a freshman was capable of leading a team of older players, and with a few exceptions, she has turned in capable performances.
She has youth on her side and a tremendous ceiling. Carson setting is in good hands for several years.