Freshman Anna Petrova has been one of the most impressive young Huskies this season, playing for the UConn volleyball team. Petrova is a native of Voronezh, Russia, and has experience playing for the Russian national volleyball team. In her time overseas, she was on gold medal-winning teams in the Championship of Moscow and won gold at EEVZA with the national team in 2015. The 6-foot outside hitter has amassed 205.5 points this season, with a high of 17 in a game against Memphis earlier this year. In this edition of the Athlete Spotlight series, The Daily Campus sat down with Petrova to get to know her better.
Mike Mavredakis: What do you think you bring to UConn volleyball?
Anna Petrova: I bring something new to the team that they have not seen before I came, based on my culture and style of volleyball.
MM: What has been the most difficult part of adjusting to the United States?
AP: The language. It is still kind of hard to communicate with people and to understand the language.
MM: Can you talk a bit about how you learned the language and some of the things that are a little difficult for you to understand?
AP: Before I came here, I started to learn English when I was five, but I was really interested in learning English. I remember my friend from home started to learn English and she could say some of the alphabet and some numbers. I was so jealous, so I started to learn by myself. Then my parents saw how much I loved the language, so I went to an English school for four years. There is a huge difference in how they teach us to speak English in Russia and how we speak here.
MM: Is there one specific thing you miss most about living in Russia?
AP: My town and my family.
MM: What do you like to do in your free time away from the court?
AP: I like hanging out with my friends and the teammates that I am really close with. I really like our campus. It is really pretty, so I just go for walks and find some new places on campus.
MM: Is there one specific player that has been a mentor to you or that you are close friends with?
AP: Yes, Klaudia (Sowizral).
MM: What is your least favorite part about UConn?
AP: That is hard.
MM: I know mine, if you would like help. The dining hall vegetables are very bad, in comparison to what I am used to.
AP: Fair enough, I do not like McMahon dining hall. One of my teammates found worms in her food there, so I do not like McMahon.
MM: What is your major?
AP: I am undecided, but it will be something connected to advertisement or communications. It will be something business-related.
MM: Do you have a favorite class?
AP: Communications 1000. I am done taking communications classes for this semester and next semester, but I really enjoyed the one I took over the summer. It was so interesting.
MM: What is it like playing at the national team level?
AP: Back in Russia? I was young. I was 14, 15 and 16 years old when I was on the Russian national team. It was hard as it was one of the first very serious teams I was on in my life. The coach was very good, and you feel that people care about you and they want you there.
MM: Would you say that the Russian national team level is on the same level as collegiate volleyball in the United States?
AP: I would say that college looks better to me, the level of volleyball and coaches are so professional. Everything is planned, and you know when and where you are supposed to go. Sometimes in Russia, we did not know the practice time for the next day. It is difficult to compare the quality of volleyball being played because I was so young at the time.
MM: Are there any players you looked up to as a kid?
AP: I actually do not really like watching volleyball. My dad is always so mad at me because I do not watch it. I love volleyball, but it is too much to watch it. I do like watching men’s volleyball, but not women’s volleyball.
MM: How much attention do you pay to your own personal statistics?
AP: When I think that I played well enough to look at my stats, then I can. When I play bad, it doesn’t make sense to for me.
MM: Are there any specific personal goals you want to reach while you are here, anything athletic, academic, or social that you would like to achieve?
AP: I want to be a better teammate because it is so different than my last team. I want to be a better person, of course. Time management, my coaches know, it is my biggest problem. Of course, studying in another language is hard. I would like to improve everything and work as hard as I can. We will see, I am not one to plan my future. I like to live in the now.
Mike Mavredakis is a campus correspondent for the Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org .