That was the Coyote volleyball motto for the 2017 season.
Sophomore defensive specialist Anne Rasmussen did just that, ending the season with 569 digs and racking up a season-high 41 digs against Denver.
Head coach Leanne Williamson said this year was Rasmussen’s biggest year of growth.
“She was put into a role that forced her to learn quickly and sometimes through failure… the player that she was during conference play was arguably one of the best liberos in the league,” Williamson said.
Rasmussen said even though she has been playing since she was eight years old, her all-around technique has grown from the coaching staff at USD.
“The coaches understand how each individual player needs to be coached, which allows the coaches to motivate us differently,” Rasmussen said.
Williamson coaches Rasmussen specifically on defense and serve/receive, as well as building confidence and communication.
“Annie is a different player to coach. She has the drive and want to be very good, so many times I help her channel that drive towards determination and away from frustration,” Williamson said.
Rasmussen’s teammates noticed this determination.
“Her strongest contribution to the court is her consistency on defense,” said sophomore Mehana Fonseca. “Teams purposefully stray away from hitting towards her because they know she will get the ball up every time.”
This sentiment is seen by Williamson, who said Rasmussen’s biggest strength is her ability to dig the ball where the offense hits it in a tough spot. Many people can dig the ball, but few can control the dig the way that she can, she said.
“My favorite part is defense,” Rasmussen said. “It’s so rewarding. It’s all about being pushing your physical limits.”
Defensive players constantly have to sacrifice their bodies in order to get the ball up, Rasmussen said. She’s no stranger to sacrifice, as injuries have plagued the team, both physically and emotionally.
“It’s been really hard to watch teammates who are injured have to watch from the bench,” Rasmussen said. “Right now I’m pushing through an impingement in the hip which was caused by overuse. I can fight through this. But I’m ready to be able to recover in the offseason.”
Fonseca said the volleyball girls have a saying amongst themselves: “Play for the people who can’t,” as three girls were injured during season, and a couple more were battling injuries.
“Anne has this strong determination to help the team,” Fonseca said. “When we are down, we look at each other and know we are going to get the job done.”
The team is extremely close — when they aren’t lifting or in the gym they are together hanging out, eating or grabbing ice cream from Dairy Queen, Rasmussen said.
“This closeness carries over into the way we play,” Rasmussen said. “We truly a family here, which is so cliché to say… but it is just really something special.”
The long road trips always bring her back to the place Rasmussen fell in love with.
“I fell in love with the people, the atmosphere (at USD),” Rasmussen said. “I couldn’t pinpoint a certain thing that made me fall in love, you just feel it when you’re playing in the facilities or walking around campus. Ultimately it’s just the feeling you get on campus.”
Another reason she appreciates USD so much is because her major fits right into her athletic experience.
“I want to go into personal training. I want to pay it forward, the way that people here have pushed me to meet my goals. I want to enable people to reach theirs,” Rasmussen said.