EDH Athlete of the Week: Natalia AndrusBy: Matt Long, Sports Editor
Oak Ridge senior middle blocker Natalia Andrus has played a key role in the team’s march through the Sierra Foothill League season on the way to a Sac-Joaquin Section Division I championship.
Andrus is second on the team in blocks with 41, and is fourth on the team with 116 kills. Her 23 percent hitting percentage would be second-best in the Sierra Foothill League if she had enough attempts to qualify. In Oak Ridge’s win over Cosumnes Oaks in the Division I semifinals, Andrus had 10 kills with a 57 percent hitting percentage, both second-best on the team. She also blocked Cosumnes Oak’s Amaria Kelley for match point.
“Natalia is the definition of positive energy for our team,” Oak Ridge coach Trevin Morgan said. “She comes to practice every day to work hard and take something away to improve her game. She always plays with a smile and cheers her team on every chance she gets. She has a high volleyball IQ; she’s fast, extremely athletic and never has a down moment. She’s been solid for us all season.
“Off the court, Natalia’s the same way. She supports the other school sports and does it with a contagious enthusiasm. She’s a one-in-a-million kid, and I’ve been very fortunate to know her and coach her for this season.”
Folsom Telegraph: What are your hopes/plans for after graduation?
Natalia Andrus: I have recently committed to play volleyball at Utah Valley University (UVU), and I couldn’t be more excited to go.
FT: Do sports run in your family?
NA: Yes, my father and my three older siblings have all played college sports. My dad played professional basketball. My older brother, Roman, is a starting offensive lineman for Utah State University. My older sister, Sabrina, ran track at Utah Valley University, and my older brother, Truman, signed to play football at UC Davis when he gets off his LDS church mission.
FT: How long have you been playing volleyball and how did you get your start in it?
NA: I have been playing volleyball since seventh grade, but I really didn’t start playing competitively until my eighth-grade year. I got into volleyball because I started going to these Above the Net Clinics run by Kalani Pananganan, and he really encouraged me to take my volleyball career further.
FT: Have you ever been involved in other sports?
NA: I was really into track for a period of time and when I was younger. I thought that was what I was going to be doing in high school, but then I found volleyball.
FT: What do you like about volleyball?
NA: I love the feeling of being up at the net with my teammates. To have unity, and to know that your team is supporting you to reach your goals is an amazing feeling.
FT: What do you enjoy more; getting a kill or blocking an opponent?
NA: Honestly it depends on the quality of the block or kill, but I would have to say that I love getting kills more.
FT: Prior to the postseason, it had been a bit of an up-and-down season. What are your thoughts on the regular season and how the team performed?
NA: I am just so proud of the way that our team has turned our season around. We were sort of the underdogs and no one expected us to win the section title, but the fact that we still believed and pushed through, it really reflects the heart of our team.
FT: Your team is seeded seventh, but you still made it to the finals. What has been the key to the team’s success in the playoffs?
NA: The fact that our team never gives up. We have amazing chemistry and determination on the court, so I think that has been an amazing component of our success.
FT: What is your favorite class in school?
NA: Probably AP Studio Art. It might be an easy class, but art is a major hobby of mine.
FT: Favorite music?
NA: I love listening to the band Imagine Dragons before volleyball games, and Khalid when I am just hanging out.
FT: Favorite Food?
NA: I am always in the mood for smoothies.
FT: Do you have any pets? Tell us about them.
NA: I have a grumpy Persian cat named Fuji. He is a major diva, but loves being around people he knows. My family also owns a dog named Tiger, who is this super sweet, ultra-friendly mini-labradoodle.
FT: Do you have any hobbies? What do you like to do in your free time?
NA: I love doing art and actually play both the piano and the viola. I definitely use my hobbies to relax after long days. I also love to use my free time to spend time with my siblings and be around my family.
FT: What inspires you in sports?
NA: I love being in a competitive environment and for me, sports has been a way to really push myself to be the best athlete that I can. My motivation comes from a conviction that I can accomplish whatever I put my mind to and have fun while doing it.
FT: Is there a particular job or profession you’d like to have after college?
NA: Yes, I want to major in nursing and minor in art when I get to UVU. My mom gave me the idea to be a nurse and ever since then it has been something that I’ve just been pretty passionate about since I love helping people and I am pretty big into science and math.