July 12, 2020 – By NJP
We have had an amazing experience covering girls volleyball in addition to the boys over this past two years. We like to think we are a good judge of character from the somewhat minimal interactions with the student athletes we are lucky enough to talk to. First impressions are usually pretty accurate and we have had the joy of interacting with some pretty special young men and ladies. Kelle Anwander falls into the category of “superstar”. Both on and off the court.
The word “big” comes to mind when we think about Kelle. But not for the obvious reasons. At 6’4″, she is certainly unique on the floor of any basketball or volleyball court. She exudes athleticism on either court she plays on. But the “big” we are referring to is related to her heart. Kelle is an impressive young lady off the court. She volunteers in many capacities to help other people.
She is a leader on campus, and not just on the volleyball court. She has the “stuff” that make people proud. Her parents, her family, and her teachers. We know she has grandparents looking down on her from the heavens who feel the same way. Because, of course, she treated them like the heroes they were to her. So heartwarming to see these days.
On the court, Kelle enters her final session having made a huge impact at South over her first three years. She has progressively gotten better each season and had some monster numbers as a junior with over 200 kills, 131 digs, and 21 aces. But the big number to note was her blocks as she tallied 95 during the campaign finishing fourth overall in the state. TRS returns a ton of talent after finishing 17-8 last season and getting to the Shore Conference semi-finals and the second round of states.
We have “big” expectations for the Indians and for Kelle as she finished out her amazing high school career, as an athlete, a student, and a leader.
Here is our interview with Ms. Anwander…
Hi Kelle… can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Hi, my name is Kelle Anwander and I am going to be a senior at Toms River High School South. I graduate high school in the year 2021 and am still unsure about where I will be attending college. I was born in and lived my entire life in Beachwood, NJ with my mom, dad, 2 sisters, and my brother. I am the youngest out of my siblings and have always been the baby of the family. I am a total cat person and absolutely have a soft spot for all baby kittens and cats!
How did you get started playing volleyball?
In addition to volleyball I also play basketball and have been playing for about 10 years now! I also played soccer for about 8 years and ran track for 3 years. I began playing volleyball when I was in 8th grade because I wanted to try something new and had never played before. I saw that my middle school was having tryouts for the volleyball team and I went out for the team having never played a day in my life. I made my school’s B team that year and used that as motivation to learn everything I possibly could about my newfound sport! And now volleyball is my favorite sport that I have ever played!
What are your key metrics and what is your favorite position to play?
I have always been considered pretty tall for my age, but once I got into high school I grew about 6 inches in a little over a year. I am 6’4” and have a vertical reach of just about 10’0”, but that is just improving with every day that I train! My position is middle blocker for my school team, but i also love playing as the outside hitter or opposite when I get the chance. For my school team I play all the way around and rarely get taken out of games. This has been great for
me because it has taught me how to give that perfect pass to the setter and it has taught me to always have my eye on the ball at every point in the game. I absolutely love every position on the court, but my favorite would definitely be middle blocker!
Does being 6’4″ drive your success in volleyball?
My height advantage definitely plays a major part in my success in the game of volleyball because it allows me to get higher above the net than most girls my age. I do credit most of my success to my height, but going up against such high skilled teams has taught me to be smart with every decision that I make on the court; so instead of just going for the strong kill, I will look for where to place the ball that will get my team the quickest point. Being so tall allows me to have the upper hand against many opponents but I still need a lot of skill and determination to execute each play and to communicate with my amazing teammates. Without my height I would not be the player that I
Kill or Block?
I definitely gain more satisfaction from getting a monster block because it pumps up my entire team on and off the court! Getting a great kill is still an amazing feeling that I love, but being able to completely stop the attack of the other team right as they are making it gets me and my entire team so excited and energized. There is no feeling as good as celebrating any hard earned point with your teammates on the court!
How do you think Toms River South will fare for the 2020 Fall season?
I believe that my High School team will have an amazing season this upcoming fall because we are only losing 3 seniors who were all
front row players. We have most of our team returning for this next season and I definitely think that we can make it far into the state tournament and even win the Shore Conference title! The key to our success will be the fact that the majority of our team has been very close friends on and off the court since before freshman year! Most of my teammates and I are all very close with each other and have amazing chemistry while playing together on the court. With all of our different strengths and the added fact that we are comfortable with how each other plays, I believe that we can really have an outstanding season in the fall!
Tell us about your TRS teammates… which players will stand out this season?
My teammates are all amazing and together we are all each others #1 fan for everything. The stand out players on my team this year will probably be Alexa McEwan and myself because we have been training a lot and giving this sport all that we have to continue to be better players every single day. Finally, the standout players to look out for this next season would be Lili Cornell in the front row and Amber
Gallo in the back row.
NJP considers you as one of the best volleyball players in the state. Do you plan on playing at the college level?
I would love to continue playing volleyball in my years in college, wherever that may be! As of right now I do not have any specific colleges in mind of where I will be attending; however, I have always dreamed about attending and playing volleyball at Syracuse University, Rutgers University, or the University of Southern Florida!
Tell us about your club experience…
I play for Tomahawk Volleyball Club and train about 2-3 days a week almost all year round. My club coach is Mike Esposito, and he has taught me many amazing things about the game of volleyball. My club experience has been pretty amazing for the 3 years that I have been playing there. Although my club is strictly group and private training sessions with clinicians, and not traveling to different tournaments, I feel that it has made me a much better player overall. Playing for my club has definitely taught me a lot of new skills and knowledge about the game that I never would have picked up if I only played for my school team.
Who is your support group?
My biggest support group has always been and will always be my Mom and my Dad because they have pushed me to become the person that I am today and they have never once doubted anything that I put my mind to. My parents are always right behind me helping me to achieve anything and everything that I work hard for and they both would do anything in order for me to achieve my dreams. From constant rides to practice and games to frantically bringing me a snack before my game, my parents do anything they can to support me in every way possible. I definitely owe my entire volleyball career to both of my amazing parents! In addition to my parents, all of my teammates have always been an amazing support group for me! Together we push each other to become better and smarter players everyday, while making dozens of memories along the way. I do not know where I would be without my teammates by
Beach or Hard Court?
I would have to say that I do prefer hard court over beach, but over these past few months I have really begun to start liking playing on the beach a lot more. I love playing hard court because I am used to the movements and skill set that is needed for it, and I love all of the different positions that come with it. However, playing twos on the beach teaches me how to get to the ball faster and how to make the best out of every ball that comes to me. Hard court will forever be my favorite though!
Which teams or schools are your biggest rivals?
My schools biggest rivals in general will always be Toms River High School East and Toms River High School North because we have been battling each other in sports for decades now. Those two schools will forever be my schools biggest rivalries in every sport that we play, but in specifically volleyball my schools biggest rivals would be Southern Regional High School and Donovan Catholic High School. Whenever we go up against either of these two teams, the stands are filled completely with students and parents cheering us on and my team gets the most energized before these games. These two schools are our biggest rivals because they are our biggest competition and we have been consistently going up against them for the same title for years and years! And this year South will win!
What are your other hobbies or interests outside of volleyball?
My other hobbies include playing basketball for my school and volunteering in as many clubs as possible. I have been playing basketball for about 10 years now so it has always been a major part of my life and I absolutely love playing with all of my friends. Whenever I get a free chance in the day I’m right outside my house shooting hoops or just working on my ball handling skills. During the winter when it is basketball season, it becomes difficult to juggle basketball practice and games as well as volleyball training, but I would never give it up.
I also love volunteering for many different clubs at my school because I have always loved helping people in every way possible. Seeing the smile on their faces when you can help anyone at all makes all of the hard work and long hours worth it. I am a member of Key Clubs, Habitat for Humanity, TEAM, National Honor Society, Student Council, and the Spanish Honor Society at my school! I love being involved in many different activities!
Tell us about some of the awards you have won playing volleyball…
Some of the awards that I have won over the years include being named to the First Team All Shore during the 2019 season and being named an honorable mention for the All Shore Team during the 2018 season! I also won MVP of my team during the 2019 season and offensive MVP of my team during the 2018 season. Over the past two years I have also broken and re-broken three school records, Most blocks in a game, Most blocks in a season, and Most blocks in a career! I was a front runner for the Shore Conference Player of the year during the 2019 season but unfortunately I did not win that award. I was also named the MVP of my school’s Basketball team as well during the 2019-2020 season!
Any final thoughts Kelle?
To finish off, my school is absolutely amazing in every way! Toms River High School South has forever been known to have an insane amount of spirit in everything that we do and that completely shows through all of our amazing sports teams. Each and every athlete at my school, including me, wears their jerseys with full pride and will forever represent an outstanding legacy at the home of the Indians! GO SOUTH!