Senior Thomasson Puts Team Goals Ahead of Her Own

Heading into her senior season with the Kentucky volleyball team, Anni Thomasson was on pace to reach a number of impressive career milestones. Thomasson entered the 2016 season just 166 digs shy of the 1,000 mark for her career. She also needed just 194 kills to reach 1,000 in that category. 

But Thomasson is, and always has been, a team player. And when the team needed her to take on a different role this season, one that may not allow her to reach those career milestones, Thomasson did not hesitate to do what was best for her team.

“This year, the way our system evolved, she sacrificed playing all the way across the front row,” Kentucky head coach Craig Skinner said of his senior. “She plays in the front row in one rotation and defensively in three. She’s really a great example of giving all she can to her 13 teammates.”

Thomasson said the evolution came out of necessity.

“At the beginning of the year, I was in a different position, then I got hurt and they decided it would be better if I passed and hit a rotation,” she said. “It was better for Leah (Edmond) and Darian (Mack), it’s worked out well. Hopefully this move will get us further in the tournament than we’ve gone before.”

The move has certainly worked well so far. Kentucky heads into Sunday’s match against Texas A&M with a 21-6 overall record, including a 14-2 mark in the SEC. The Wildcats remain firmly in the mix for the SEC title, and are looking to make some noise in the postseason, especially after an early exit last year.

“We have the potential to go all the way,” Thomasson said of her team’s postseason potential. “We have a very versatile team, where a lot of people can do a lot of different things. We want to do well for each other and make each other better.”

As for her career as a whole, Thomasson has many fond memories of her time in Lexington.

“I still think my best memory is, my freshman year, we beat Minnesota in five (sets) and they were ranked fourth (nationally) at the time. That’s a game I’ll never forget. And beating Florida this year was pretty sweet.”

“And, I beat Louisville all four years I was here,” she said with a smile.

Thomasson, who recently broke Kentucky’s school record for service aces in the 25-point rally scoring era, chose Kentucky coming out of high school due to its proximity with her hometown of Newark, Ohio, which is near Columbus. Thomasson wanted to get away from her home area, but not too far away, so that her biggest fans could continue to see her play.

“I wanted to have the support of my parents, like I always have,” Thomasson said. “I wanted them to be able to watch every game.”

Thomasson is a Kinesiology and Health Promotion major, and she plans to become a high school teacher one day. But for now, her focus is on her team, just as it always has been.