It was the ice cream that won Bianca Anderson over.
When the Homewood-Flossmoor senior volleyball player took a visit to the University of Southern Indiana, some of the Screaming Eagles took her out for a cold treat.
“I was already getting to know them,” she said. “It was just how they brought me in and accepted me without even knowing if I was going to commit there.”
That was enough for Anderson to make a verbal pledge to play at USI next fall. Until then, Anderson leads a Vikings team preparing for the postseason.
She’s a natural outside or middle hitter. But H-F (15-15, as of Oct. 18) wanted to find a way to get the ball more easily to one of its better hitters, so Anderson is on the right side and in the back row this year. Her biggest strength is going up to attack the ball.
“Playing right side is coming in at a different angle and being able to still attack the ball, but the sets are different and I have to play off blocker defense,” Anderson said. “It’s very different for me. It’s an adjustment but we’ve been working hard all season and I think we’re really adjusting to it well.”
She welcomed the chance to become a more versatile player in preparation for a college career where she may be asked to play a different role than she’s used to. She’s been effective, too, registering 167 kills, 110 digs and 29 blocks with one match left in the regular season.
Anderson had 15 kills in one match alone against Bradley earlier this season.
“She’s one of our three top options all the time,” coach Bob St. Leger said. “She’s super explosive at the net. Like most of your best players, we kind of go how she goes most of the time. When she’s on the floor, we’re better.”
Anderson has championship experience. She won a national title with the Epic United 17 Volleyball over the summer. She and her club teammates beat Michio Chicago Volleyball Academy in the USA Volleyball 17 Elite Girls Junior National Championships in Las Vegas.
The teams were very familiar with each other, having played in several more local tournaments. Epic won the championship match 25-20, 19-25, 15-8.
“We went all the way to Vegas just to play the same team we play all the time,” Anderson said. “It really felt good to be able to contribute to a moment like that. When we all rushed into a circle, it just felt complete after working so hard all year.”
St. Leger said Anderson is a leader on his team, too, even if she isn’t the most vocal. She plays hard and tries to set an example.
“A lot of the girls, I can tell, look up to me. It’s important to keep a good attitude,” Anderson said. “Even if I’m not necessarily talking all the time, it’s all about what you can to help the team during a game.”
Anderson said it’s starting to set in that her time with her high school teammates is coming to an end.
The Vikings will play Joliet Central to open the state series on Oct. 26. H-F will be the favorite in that one and would likely see Bolingbrook in the regional finals. The Raiders beat the Vikings 25-21, 25-20 last week.
That match was at the end of a tough stretch for Homewood-Flossmoor, though. St. Leger thinks his team has been playing better as the playoffs approach.
“I think we know that we can play with and potentially beat anybody. It’s just got to be a day-in, day-out thing,” he said.