In what will go down as a historic moment for the Wisconsin Badgers women’s volleyball program with their first-ever National Championship victory at the 2021 tournament, Anna Smrek’s performance will too be immortalized as one for the ages as a key factor in the team’s success. The Welland native joined her team among the raining confetti to hoist the prestigious trophy on December 18 after defeating the Nebraksa Cornhuskers in a nail-biting five sets and was additionally tabbed as the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player. The last time a Canadian earned this honour was in 2006 by Olympian and fellow Ontarian, Sarah Pavan who competed for Nebraska, coincidentally.
Throughout the bracket – and particularly in the latter tournament matches – Smrek was stealing the show with game changing contributions over the net with team-high kills and incredible swing accuracy. Such efforts include a 20 kill performance with one error and a 0.741 hitting percentage against the Louisville Cardinals.
The freshman would then lead the Badgers on the offensive in the Championship match against Nebraska by posting 14 kills and 7 blocks en route to her first NCAA title. Smrek was also named to the All-Tournament team
Prior to her post-secondary career, Smrek played for the Defensa Volleyball Club and competed on the National Youth team from 2018-20. Wearing the Canadian Maple Leaf, Smrek won a silver at the 2018 NORCECA Championships in Hondouras and appeared at the 2019 U18 World Championships in Egypt.
Thumbnail Image Source: Wisconsin Badgers