Annie Wolfe didn’t exactly turn the heads of many College Volleyball programs. She was a solid part of an excellent squad from Omaha Marion, but she lacked the eye popping stats and resume that typically court the best programs in the country. UNK Volleyball coach Rick Squiers even admits to not recognizing the impact Wolfe would have on his program when she first joined.
Prior to Wolfe’s first year on the team, the 2012 Loper Volleyball team was coming off one of the most successful seasons of Squire’s tenure. They posted a 35-3 record and an appearance in the Sweet Sixteen of the 2012 NCAA Division II Volleyball Tournament. Wolfe, who’s freshman year was 2013, was recruited as a role player, a solid middle blocker to supplement a team with high hopes in the coming years. In her first two years she posted respectable stats, but she admits she never quite found her groove. Despite this, Wolfe was consistent. In her freshman year, she played in all 35 matches, and in her Sophomore year, she even played in all 111 sets that the Lopers played. Her dependability and work ethic earned her the admiration of her teammates and coaches.
In her junior season, Squires and Wolfe decided to make a change. Rather than continue her role as a middle blocker, the humble role player was moved to right side hitter. Wolfe flourished in her new position. Her technical understanding of the game and experience at multiple positions allowed her to flummox opponents across the net with subtle changes to her footwork and positioning.
She quickly separated herself as one of the best players in the MIAA and the nation. Squire’s notes that the strength of her game was her consistent high level play “She never had a bad game. Her lowest hitting percentage her senior year was .200. By the nature of the game, that doesn’t happen very often. Every night she was the most dependable, reliable player that we ever had here.” He goes on to say that she was not a flashy player that the average fan would admire with each match, but instead her abilities were most appreciated by the trained eye of coaches in the league.
In 2016, Annie’s career culminated with her best season of volleyball. She was top three on her team in most categories and hit over .340 in 25 matches. Under her leadership, the Lopers won the MIAA regular season and MIAA Tournament before they were stunned in regionals by Augustana. Even with a stinging end to her Senior season, Wolfe still had something to celebrate.
On top of countless regional and league awards, she was named the NCAA Division II Player of the Year. Though like a true competitor, Wolfe likely would have swapped out all the recognition in exchange for another shot in the NCAA Tournament. But the award is a perfect bookend to a dedicated career in volleyball, one that will not easily be replicated. “As good a college student athlete success story as you’ll ever see,” Coach Squires said while reflecting on Wolfe’s career, “She exhibits what it means to be an ideal Loper.”