WATERLOO — The manner in which Anna Sinnott attacks the volleyball could be considered a work of art.
“She probably has one of the most beautiful approaches I’ve ever seen,” Waterloo Columbus coach Hanna Nuss said of her returning all-stater. “It’s just long and rhythmic and perfect. You can’t even teach it that way.”
It won’t be long before one of the Waterloo Columbus senior outside hitter’s masterpieces reaches a coveted milestone.
Sinnott will take 987 career kills into La Porte City for Thursday’s North Iowa Cedar League triangular with Union and Jesup. She’s reached that total in little over two seasons, after playing just 45 sets as a freshman.
“Going into high school, I didn’t really expect that or realize that could happen,” Sinnott admits. “Being close (to 1,000 kills) early in the season is unbelievable and such a great feeling that I’m going to be able to accomplish that in my high school career.”
Similar to many girls that play her position, Sinnott is quick to point out success doesn’t come without resilience. She finished better than any player in Class 2A a year ago with a state-high 473 kills, and is averaging 4.12 kills per set on .279 hitting for this year’s squad that has won back-to-back tournament championships at Mount Vernon and Iowa City West.
“You get defeated a lot when you’re an outside hitter, especially with big blockers. You just have to learn to stay positive,” Sinnott said. “It teaches me to just shake things off and move on , set an example for my team that if I do get blocked or hit a ball out I need to focus on the next point. Focus on giving it my all and doing my part.”
Sinnott certainly hasn’t had to look far to find role models on the volleyball court. Her older cousin, Ashlee Sinnott, was a multi-sport standout at Columbus who went on to become a regular in the University of Northern Iowa’s volleyball rotation.
“She just showed me what hard work meant,” Anna Sinnott said of her cousin’s influence. “If you want to get something then you need to work hard for it. If you set your mind to it, you can really accomplish anything you want.”
Landry Luhring, a senior leader on Grundy Center’s 16-0 team, helped introduce Anna to competitive volleyball. They were 12-year-olds in the same gymnastics class when Luhring suggested Sinnott go with her to a club tryout one night after practice.
“I went with her and I’ve been playing ever since,” Sinnott recalls. “I just really liked playing as a team rather than doing something as an individual.”
Former teammate Lauren McManus was another valuable influence for Sinnott. They played the same position, and Sinnott credited the senior leader of last year’s team as someone who demonstrated how to develop unity and hold each other accountable.
As Sinnott’s confidence rose her junior year, the Sailors went on an incredible late-season run. Columbus returned to the state tournament for the second time in as many seasons and reached the finals as a team ranked outside the Top 10.
“She had to build her own confidence and show everybody else that she’s somebody they can ride on,” Nuss said. “Especially last year, she just came on at the end and decided that she was going to be that player. As soon as she made that turn, she decided that she was going to be unstoppable and hasn’t looked back since.”
One of the highlights for Sinnott early this season came last weekend. She and another senior rejoined the team for Saturday’s tournament at Iowa City West following morning ACT testing.
Newcomers had stepped into their roles and the Sailors didn’t miss a beat. Sinnott rejoined her teammates toward the end of pool play and tallied double-digit kill totals during three-set wins over rated opponents Mount Vernon, West Des Moines Dowling and Iowa City West.
“We got there mid-match of one of the pool play games and we got to see how they blended together without us,” Sinnott said. “It’s cool to see the future of the program and how they react to that kind of pressure. They just did great all around and stepped up this weekend.”
Beyond high school volleyball, Sinnott is still undecided when it comes to college volleyball. She’s spoken with a couple programs, but hasn’t gone on any visits to this point. Academically, she says she’d like to pursue a degree in OB nursing.
Nuss knows her senior has already made a lasting impact with a high school program that is looking to win a state title after losing in last year’s finals.
“Anytime you can have a kid that’s top anything in the state it’s going to grow your program,” Nuss said. “It’s going to have kids sitting in the bleachers dreaming that one day they’ll be like Anna Sinnott. That’s exactly what we need to put Columbus volleyball back where it should be.”