Warriors Athlete of Week: Anderson leaps to the forefront of Brainerd’s attack

Brainerd's Karlie Anderson is small in stature but big in hops to help the Warriors volleyball team to a 4-2 start.

Karlie Anderson's (left) improved defensive play has her playing all the way around Brainerd Warriors volleyball rotation. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

Karlie Anderson gets asked a lot about her legs and there’s a reason why.

The Brainerd Warriors senior stands only 5-foot-9 which makes her shorter than almost all the middle hitters she faces on the volleyball court.

To combat that, Anderson relies on her jumping ability and the power generated by her legs.

“I really get asked a lot, a lot, a lot of times,” Anderson said. “It’s mostly genetics because my dad has the same body type and so does my little sister. I was in gymnastics a lot when I was younger and I think that was a big contributor, but I do not lift weights as much as people think I do.


“Coach always talks about how I can get on top of the ball and how nobody can get as high as I do. I like having that advantage for sure.”

Anderson used her jumping ability to register 10 kills and two blocks to go with 12 digs and three ace serves in the Warriors 3-0 victory over the Bemidji Lumberjacks Monday, Nov. 2.

“We talk about that all the time,” Warriors head coach Rick Kuehlwein said. “When they try and set this quick stuff to these kids, you have to realize what she can do. She can jump over these people. She’s only 5-9, but she gets up to just about 9-foot-8. She hits the ball consistently, when we put the ball high, over 8 feet high. The average high school player only hit the ball anywhere between 7-5 and 8-0. She can hit the ball consistently, with a decent set, over 8 1/2 feet high.”

In a quick 3-0 Central Lakes Conference victory over St. Cloud Tech Oct. 27, Anderson finished with four kills, three blocks and two digs. Two days later, Anderson posted six kills and three blocks in Brainerd’s 3-1 loss to Willmar.

She said her biggest improvement has been her mental approach.

“Since I’ve been on the team, that has been my coach’s goal to get me more mentally strong,” Anderson said. “He knows I have the arm strength and the talent. Before, If I made a mistake, I would just get in my head and then continue to make mistakes. I wouldn’t get mad at my teammates, I would just get mad at myself. I would just get so frustrated.”

On the season, Anderson has 45 kills with a 40.5 kill percentage. She owns a .216 hitting percentage.

She’s serving at 93.7% with seven ace serves.


“Serving has kind of been a weak point for me and I’ve really been working on that lately,” Anderson said. “As a middle, if you want to play back row you have to get the points. You have to prove yourself.”

She leads the team in blocks with 46 total, including 21 solo blocks.

“She’s our quickest person to close the block,” Kuehlwein said. “We don't always close it, but she penetrates, which some kids go straight up. It’s obviously something you have to learn, but she’s reading much better instead of waiting.”

One of her biggest improvements has been defense. She owns 30 digs this season and was allowed to play the entire rotation against Bemidji.

“Last night was the first time I got to go all the way around (the rotation) and I loved it,” Anderson said. “I got to do it twice. As a middle, you don’t really ever get to play back row. Normally you’re just subbed out right away. To even get to serve when you get to the back row is kind of a big thing, but coach lets me play defense because he trusts me.

“Last year, if I was going to play back row, it was for a point and then he would pull me out and put the libero (a defensive specialist) back there. Last year, coach put me in the back a few times and I love it back there. I love being able to contribute to that part of the team as well so I really pushed myself over the summer and in (Junior Olympics) to better myself on defense. I know other middles that get to play back there so I really feel I have an advantage with that.”

Last season, Anderson served six times and recorded one ace and finished with 12 digs. She added 109 blocks, 29 solo, and 94 kills.

“I see growth as a volleyball player,” Kuehlwein said. “She’s always been a good athlete. She has good feet and that type of thing, but I see her maturing as a player and with that, we normally use the libero quite a bit, but I use her in the back row now just because she’s grown into a good defensive player. She’s very, very quick and she does things other kids on our team can’t do because she is so quick.”


Anderson plans to attend Jamestown next fall and play volleyball.

“The team chemistry was perfect,” Anderson said. “It was exactly where I would fit in and their gym was beautiful.”

JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at 855-5856 or Follow on Twitter at

Karlie Anderson

Karlie Anderson


Sport: Volleyball

Position: Middle hitter

Year: Senior

Age: 17

Height: 5-foot-9

Career highlight: Last year’s regular-season game against Pequot Lakes: “The energy in the gym was insane.”

Other sports: Softball

Grade-point average: 3.7


Favorite class: Sociology

Favorite food: Spaghetti

Favorite movie: “Marley & Me”

Favorite TV show: “The Vampire Diaries”

Favorite website or app: TikTok

Favorite restaurant: Noodles & Company

Future plans: Going to Jamestown to play volleyball on scholarship

Favorite athlete: Dana Rettke


Parents: Kelsey Anderson and Shane Wilson, Matthew Avery and Mallory Avery

Other notable performances

  • Jed Klang, football, caught four passes for 51 yards and two touchdowns against Bemidji.

  • Jacob Holm, football, recorded an interception against Bemidji.

  • Madison Genz, volleyball, finished with 14 digs and six kills against St. Cloud Tech.

  • Abbigayle Bohlen, volleyball, finished with 16 set assists, nine digs and one ace serve against St. Cloud Tech. Added 14 set assists, five kills and three ace serves against Willmar.

Covering the Brainerd lakes area sports scene for the past 23 years.
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