By Tiya Mahalanobis
Bump. Set. Spike. We’ve all heard of this process before, but for Anna Conti it means something different than for those watching from the stands.
Conti, a KU sophomore, serves as the women’s volleyball team’s top setter and key defensive player. She is confident in the team’s ability to claim the PSAC Eastern Division title this coming season.
Born in Columbus Ohio, and raised in Grove City Ohio, the 20 year-old Conti is the middle child of three sisters. Volleyball seems to have run in the family, which is what sparked Conti’s interest in playing sports around third grade.
“I was probably 9 years old,” Conti said. “When I was little, I wanted to be involved in every sport. … My mom and older sister played, so I wanted to try it, too.”
After graduating from Grove City High School in 2013, Conti began attending KU in the fall of the same year, majoring in Business and Marketing with a minor in International Studies.
It was then that Conti also committed to playing volleyball for the Golden Bears.
“Coach saw me at a tournament,” Conti says, adding that she also found KU to be a place where she could feel right at home. “I really liked the campus. I felt like this could be a perfect fit.”
When John Gump, KU’s women’s volleyball coach, watched Conti play at a tournament in Baltimore, it became evident to him that her abilities were exactly what the team needed.
“Her play stood out right away,” Gump said. “She was clearly a skilled player who you could tell played at a high level.”
Along with Conti’s experience, Gump also saw that she was an exceptional team player.
“You could see very quickly that her teammates really loved playing with her, which is a really, really important quality for a setter,” he said.
Making the transition to college volleyball, however, was much different than Conti had expected.
“You’re playing against women,” she said. “These girls are strong!”
Despite the challenges faced coming in, Conti reassures that the combination of good team dynamic and support from teammates has benefitted the team overall.
“We beat the PSAC Champions from last year, this year at their place. It was crazy!” Conti said. “We won more this season.”
Conti’s impact on the court has not gone unnoticed by her teammates or her coach.
Madisyn Kleinfelter, a freshman setter on the team, has observed Conti’s good play and leadership firsthand.
“She takes us all under her wing and encourages us,” Kleinfelter said. “She brings energy to the team and is very supportive. She pushes us to do our best.”
Conti affirmed that the outlook is favorable for the Golden Bears, as long as the team keeps going in the direction they have been going.
“I think if we all play like we’ve been playing, we’ll all have each other’s backs,” she said.
So, what’s next for Conti and her teammates?
“To make it to the tournament, for sure! We want to win the PSAC East,” Conti said. “We have a lot to look towards. I think next year we have a better chance to make it to the playoffs.”