Skyview senior Anna Bonebrake meets the ball at the net during a game earlier this month.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
In volleyball, Skyview senior Anna Bonebrake makes things look easy because she has worked so hard.
Bonebrake has made the first all-Northern Lights Conference team the last two years. She concludes her Skyview career tied for the single-game blocks record with 18 and one behind the single-game kills record of 27.
“Anna has been to a lot of camps and done a lot of outside work,” Skyview coach Sheila Kupferschmid said. “That has made her the complete player she is.”
As a child, Bonebrake was involved in swimming but in seventh grade she started to explore other sports. Bonebrake took up soccer, basketball and volleyball.
Bonebrake had some success in other sports, making Skyview’s varsity basketball team as a freshman and sophomore before giving up the sport, but volleyball was the sport that stuck.
“I get a huge adrenaline rush playing volleyball more than in any other sport,” Bonebrake said. “Everything in volleyball seems to happen in an instant.
“Plus, the teams I’ve been on at Skyview have always been made up of really nice people.”
Bonebrake played volleyball in seventh and eighth grade for Soldotna Middle School. Kupferschmid was substitute teaching one day at the middle school and noticed Bonebrake, who was about 5-foot-9 at the time.
Kupferschmid knew Bonebrake would be attending Skyview the next season and asked if Bonebrake would like to attend the Volleyball Festival with the team. The event, which bills itself as the largest annual sporting event in the world, was being held that year in Sacramento, Calif.
Bonebrake said going to the festival stoked her love for the game and eased her transition to high school volleyball.
“At that point, I was just trying to keep my head above water,” Bonebrake said. “Everything was so new and different.
“I found it easier to get to know the rest of the girls because we had traveled together.”
As a freshman, Bonebrake was the second middle hitter on a team that finished runner-up in the state.
“My freshman year my role was simply to block and that was about it,” Bonebrake said. “I’d also serve as a decoy. I’d run my routes and scream, and (Jenny) Carpenter would get the balls.”
After her freshman year, the Panthers took a major hit due to graduation and Bonebrake’s days as a decoy were over.
“I went into that winter knowing that the next season, I would have to play back row,” Bonebrake said. “I was never any good at back row, so it was something I had to work very hard at.”
Kupferschmid said it is common for younger players to struggle with the back row. She said the position calls for good technique, plus a lot of experience sending an array of balls to a target.
“It takes an athlete to be able to play defense,” Kupferschmid said. “You don’t see complete players all the time. When you have one, it’s a benefit to the team because complete players don’t need a sub. You can obtain a chemistry or a synergy without subbing.”
Skyview struggled Bonebrake’s sophomore year, but came back to get the Southern Division No. 1 seed at the conference tournament in Bonebrake’s junior year and the No. 2 seed Bonebrake’s senior year.
Kupferschmid said Bonebrake became a polished attacker during her junior and senior years. Not only did Bonebrake hit the weights, but she played as much volleyball as possible. She attended the Volleyball Festival again after her sophomore year, attended numerous camps, hit every open gym she could and played club volleyball during her junior year.
“Attacking takes a lot of timing and judgment,” Kupferschmid said. “The only way Anna developed was by spending the hours and hours it takes to have timing and technique down.”
Bonebrake also took up the challenge her senior year of being the team leader.
“It’s a life-learning experience,” said Anna’s mother, Tamera Bonebrake. “You have to deal with people in this life. It was a good time for her to step up and play a leadership role. She did a good job.”
While Bonebrake was putting the hurt on opponents this year, it barely showed that she was hurting herself. Her family has a history of bad knees. Bonebrake’s had become so sore before her senior year that doctors suggested she not play.
Not only did she play, but many times she dominated on the floor.
“In one sense, it was amazing,” said Tamera, who along with husband, Stephen, formed a duo that Kupferschmid said is invaluable to Skyview’s program. “When you know the kid, it’s not at all surprising. She’s very focused and very determined. It’s just part of her makeup and personality.”
Bonebrake said her knees will not allow her to play in college, but she wants to be a part of Team Alaska at the Arctic Winter Games if she makes the team.
Bonebrake’s determination also has allowed her to maintain a 4.0 grade-point average in the classroom and become a member of the National Honors Society. She plans to attend the University of Alaska Anchorage next year on the UAA Scholars Program and major in psychology.
Kupferschmid said that even though Bonebrake will no longer play volleyball, the lessons from the sport will serve her well.
“Athletics is a good teacher about commitment and work ethic,” Kupferschmid said. “If you don’t have those two, you’re going to be mediocre at whatever you do.”
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