Brook Hill alumna earns 2017 Southland Conference Player of the Year accolade

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A former Brook Hill Lady Guard volleyball star recently picked up one of the highest recognitions of her career in the sport for her efforts on the court with her collegiate team this season.

Samantha Anderson, Brook Hill Class of 2015 alumna, was recently presented with the recognition of Southland Conference Player of the Year, highlighting her junior season with the University of Central Arkansas (Conway, Ark.) Sugar Bears volleyball team.

“It’s such an honor,” said Anderson, about her recognition. “I was so surprised when I found out. To be honored with this award was very humbling and I couldn’t have done it without my coaches and teammates.”

According to a post on the Southland Conference’s website, Anderson, a six-foot-three-inch right side hitter, led Central Arkansas to a 13-3 Southland Conference record, helping her team to earn the Conference’s Championship title and the No. 2 seed in the 2017 Southland Conference Volleyball Tournament, held Friday through Sunday, Nov. 17-19, at Texas A&M University - Corpus Christi.

Anderson finished seventh in the league this season in hitting percentage (.330) and kills per set (3.49) in conference matches. She also averaged 1.10 blocks per set in Conference play to rank 10th in the Southland.

“This team has worked so hard, not just this season,” said Anderson. “Our success definitely has been something that we’ve been working for since even last summer. These girls have earned the success on the court. It was not an overnight success story. We’ve been at school since July practicing and working out. There were a lot of long, hard days but it definitely pays off when you’re getting the wins you want.”

During the 2017 Southland Conference Volleyball Tournament, Anderson and the Sugar Bears claimed victories against No. 7 McNeese State (3-1) in the first round, as well as a second round win over the host team, No. 3 Texas A&M – Corpus Christi (3-2), and the Championship victory over No. 8 Abilene Christian (3-0).

“Competing in the Southland Conference Tournament truly was a dream,” said Anderson. “We definitely went into the tournament with the plan and the goal to get into the finals, but we also knew that we had to get through three very good teams to get there. Winning the championship in such a dominant fashion was amazing. ACU was on a hot streak after upsetting two teams in the quarters and the semis, so we knew we had to come out with everything that we had. Finishing out the tournament with a sweep was a confidence boost and so fun.”

After claiming the crown at the 2017 Southland Conference Volleyball Tournament, the Sugar Bears awaited their fate and were awarded their third NCAA Division 1 Volleyball Tournament bid, drawing the No. 10 University of Southern California Lady Trojans as their first opponent.

Prior to the NCAA Tournament, Anderson said the reality of making it to the NCAA tournament was almost déjà vu, having seen the team claw their way to the dance they year she signed with the program.

“I am beyond excited,” said Anderson, of her team’s third NCAA bid. “I remember committing to UCA my junior year of high school and watching the 2013 team go to the NCAA tournament. I could never imagine that I would be on the next team to achieve that goal.”

In the first round contest at the NCCA Tournament against USC’s Women of Troy, held Friday, Dec. 1, inside of the Galen Center in Los Angeles, Calif., the UCA squad faced a tough challenge, ultimately falling to the Lady Trojans, 3-1.

Anderson compiled a strong stat line in the contest against USC, contributing seven kills, three blocks, and two digs to her team’s efforts.

With next season being her senior season, Anderson is hoping for the team to be able to make another run at the Southland Conference title and back into the NCAA tournament bracket.

“Definitely a goal is to return to the NCAA tournament,” said Anderson. “We’re only losing one senior this year and my class is very strong. I’m honestly looking forward to spending my last season with this group of girls that I started this whole process with four years ago. We’ve been through a lot together and the four of us have grown very close. So to be able to walk through this last year together will be so sweet, and to repeat as champions would be amazing.”

In addition to the recognition of Southland Conference Player of the Year, Anderson has received several other accolades as a member of the UCA Sugar Bears volleyball team, including All-Southland Conference Honorable Mention in 2016, All-Southland Conference Tournament Team 2016, two-time Preseason All-Southland Conference Second Team in 2016 and 2017, and two-time member of the Southland Conference Commissioner’s Honor Roll in 2015 and 2016.

During her freshman campaign in 2015, Anderson played in 27 contests for the Sugar Bears with 17 starts, playing in a total of 87 sets. She was ranked second on the team with an average of 2.25 kills per set, good for a total of 196 on year, while hitting .213. Anderson also was ranked second on the team with an average of 0.99 blocks per set, and totaled 86 blocks on the year, while also contributing 33 digs and four assists.

Anderson saw action in 112 sets in her sophomore year in 2016, starting in 27 out of 30 total matchups. As a sophomore, she was ranked second on the team and ninth in the Southland Conference with 317 total kills, while also ranked second on the team and tenth in the Conference with an average of 2.81 kills per set, third on the team in hitting percentage with .251, second on the team with 103 total blocks, good for an average of 0.91 per set, and added 40 digs and six assists.

As a junior this season, Anderson led her team with a total of 382 kills, while also ranked second on the squad with 109 blocks in a total of 116 sets in 32 games, of which Anderson started in 27. She also contributed a total of 44 digs.

While attending Brook Hill, Anderson won a National Championship with her club team, Madfrog Volleyball of Plano, in 2015. She also earned All-State First Team honors in 2013 and All-State Second Team recognition in 2012 and 2014, as well as four-time All-District First Team honors from 2011-2014), two-time District Most Valuable Player in 2012 and 2013, and Academic All-American Honorable Mention.

Regarding her time on the Lady Guard varsity volleyball team, Anderson said the program has helped to make her into the player she is today.

“Lady Guard volleyball will always have a special place in my heart,” said Anderson. “It was the first place I ever touched a volleyball. The great thing about Brook Hill is that they are not just focused on success through getting Ws in the win column; I learned how to be a good teammate, how to win and lose with respect, and how to lead well. Brook Hill has never been focused on creating the next ‘best’ athlete to make their name better. My school has always been focused on creating strong young adults, who may happen to play sports, that have a strong character and above all else, a rich love for the Lord. The teachers and coaches who walked me through my time at Brook Hill taught me life lessons as well as coached me to be the player I am today, and for that I am forever grateful.”

While attending UCA, Anderson is majoring in elementary education and majoring in history. After her college graduation in May, she hopes to go into student or children’s ministry at a church or through a ministry.

Anderson is the daughter of Dave and Elizabeth Anderson.

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