Bishop Dwenger’s Anna Burkhardt named News-Sentinel Volleyball Player of the Year

Bishop Dwenger junior Anna Burkhardt is the News-Sentinel.com Volleyball Player of the Year. (Courtesy photo)
Anna Burkhardt

Last year, when Anna Burkhardt was just a sophomore, Bishop Dwenger coach Tim Houser approached the back-row specialist and suggested the impossible.

Houser told Burkhardt that with some hard work over the summer, she could be the Saints’ next Abby Bojrab, a senior all-state player who was the team’s leader emotionally and physically. She was the go-to player who always seemed to be the focus whenever the Saints got into a hole.

“It was really good motivation,” Burkhardt said. “I’m a tough cookie, I guess you could say, and I’ve always been really competitive. It helped me because I knew what was expected of me. I always knew what spot I had to fill, and that was Abby’s.”

Houser also knew exactly what he was saying and which player he was saying it to. He knew she could handle the expectations with a slight nudge.

“You have to know the kid and know they can handle that,” Houser said. “I knew we’d have a good team and she would be a big part of it. She was a solid player, and sometimes you have to wait your turn. ”

Burkhardt handled it just fine, leading the rea’s best team in kills and ball handling and finished second in digs as the Saints put together a 31-2 mark. That’s why Burkhardt has been named The News-Sentinel.com Volleyball Player of the Year.

But it’s still rare to see a part-time player put together that kind of dominating season the very next year. Part of it is that Burkhardt grew an inch-and-half to 5-foot-8, but she also improved in her all-around game with help from Jay Golsteyn at Impact Volleyball Club.

“She’s very driven, but she’s also very humble, too,” Golsteyn said. “I asked her if she knew who was leading the SAC in kills this year, and she didn’t know. `Aren’t you leading them?’ I asked, and she said, `Well, I may be.’ She doesn’t care because she just wants to play to win.”

She’s all about the team. Maybe the best way to push Burkhardt is to tell her she can’t do something.

“You challenge her, and she’ll be like, `OK, bring it on!’ ” Golsteyn said. “She’d be like `C’mon, I’ve got it. Give me another one!’ ”

Burkhardt knew she had worked hard enough to earn Bojrab’s spot and not just have it given to her. In a way, it helped her that she knew there were three teammates who also wanted the spot and could haven taken it away from her.

“I just knew I had to prove myself in order to get it,” she said. “I definitely had to show how much better I had gotten.”

Now she’s working on becoming more of a shotmaker and not just a power hitter. If she can learn to tip over and hit off the block, Burkhardt could be unstoppable as a senior. Her major goal is to simply be more consistent on every play, to be the leader both physically and emotionally, to be the go-to player the Saints need her to be. It’s going to be a new challenge.

And guess what? Houser already has another sophomore picked out to put the bug in her ear.

“You know what,” he’ll say. “You work hard enough, you could end up being the next Anna Burkhardt.”

All-conference teams

SUMMIT ATHLETIC CONFERENCE

First team

Madi Ross, Bishop Dwenger

Anna Burkhardt, Bishop Dwenger

Claudia Ream, Bishop Dwenger

Ellen Ross, Bishop Dwenger

Taya Dazey, Bishop Dwenger

Josie Sauer, Concordia

Caroline Morrison, Concordia

Cleasia Craig, Concordia

Gabi North, Bishop Luers

Kathryn Knapke, Bishop Luers

Kendyll Gebert, Snider

Emma Westra, Snider

Katie Ummel, Northrop

Mattie Wilson, Wayne

Second team

Delany Hogan, Bishop Dwenger

Maddie Ellis, Bishop Dwenger

Sarah McTague, Bishop Dwenger

Madeline Patterson, Concordia

Paige Patterson, Concordia

Jelena Girod, Bishop Luers

Abby Keja, Bishop Luers

Meredith Woolsey, Snider

Abigail Bulmahn, Northrop

Katie Stone, Northrop

Mikayla Bailey, Wayne

Maranda Bradley, North Side

ALLEN COUNTY ATHLETIC CONFERENCE

First team

Madi Wurster, South Adams

Maggie Castleman, Heritage

Emma Clines, Bluffton

Chloe Trissel, Jay County

Kaelyn Weaver, Jay County

Addison Bayman, Woodlan

Julia Grabau, South Adams

Second team

Megan Horton, Southern Wells

Sami Oliver, Adams Central

Alivia Beard, Heritage

Addie Wanner, South Adams

Ava Kintz, Adams Central

Emily Scheumann, Heritage

Kailee Denney, Jay County

Jessica Dodane, Heritage

NORTHEAST 8 CONFERENCE

First team

Paityn Brady, Leo

Morgan Dwyer, East Noble

Sidney Gerig, DeKalb

Rylie Houser, Bellmont

Makayla Knoblauch, Leo

Rachel McBride, Bellmont

Tori Miller, Bellmont

Macy Niswander, Huntington North

Kalee Platt, Huntington North

Maddy Robrock, Huntington North

Brooke Smith, Leo

Second team

Breann Barger, Norwell

Amber Dahlstrom, Bellmont

Erica Diamond, Leo

Ava Doster, New Haven

Grace Erwin, East Noble

Rileigh Johnson, Huntington North

Bree Lahr, Columbia City

Taylor Osborn, Columbia City

Ashley Stuart, Leo

Kylie Topp, Norwell

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