There is little that Waconia senior Jessica Wolf likes better than walking out on the family dock on Lake Waconia and relaxing with a good book.
“The book I just finished was ‘Blind Your Ponies,’” Wolf said of Stanley Gordon West’s novel about a hapless basketball team overcoming long odds. “Those are the kinds of book I like.”
As much as she enjoys reading, however, Wolf’s passion is volleyball. The 6-1 senior is considered one of the metro’s best outside hitters. The Wildcats will look to her to guide them through the minefield of Class 3A, Section 2, arguably the deepest section in the state.
Staff writer Jim Paulsen talked to Wolf about her passion for volleyball and what she prefers about the Midwest over California.
Q: How long have you been a volleyball player?
A: I started when I was in third grade. I played volleyball and basketball. I moved to California in sixth grade and volleyball is super popular there. I just stuck with volleyball.
Q: Where in California?
A: I lived in Temecula, about an hour [north]west of San Diego, for two years, then we came back to Minnesota.
Q: Which do you prefer, California or Minnesota?
A: It gets to about 110 degrees in July and August. But it’s more humid here. I would take the heat there over the heat here.
Q: How did you feel about coming back to Minnesota?
A: I was sad and glad. I liked living there, with the climate and the challenging atmosphere for volleyball, but I loved coming back here to the friends I had and the community. I love living on a lake.
Q: How is volleyball in California compared to Minnesota?
A: The volleyball there is so good, but in Minnesota, it’s really stepped up. In California, we are trained more as individuals within our positions. In Minnesota, with my club team Northern Lights, we trained more as a unit with one goal in mind. That’s why Northern Lights does so well team-wise in national tournaments.
Q: Is one style better than the other?
A: I think I get better here. Volleyball is a team sport. You have to learn how to play as a team with a variety of different people.
Q: What are your expectations for Waconia?
A: I’m excited to see where we can go. We’re a very versatile team with some new, upcoming [defensive specialists]. I’m looking forward to seeing what we can grow into and what we can do at the end of the season.
Q: Are you a leader on this team?
A: Yes. Definitely in terms of communication and what happens off the court. In volleyball, you have to have that bond off the court to play well on it. I like to check up on the girls and make sure things like their personal lives don’t affect them on the court.
Q: Your Northern Lights team had a pretty successful summer. Now some of those players who were teammates are going to be your opponents. How to you handle that?
A: It’s different, because I know their strengths and weaknesses but at the same time, they know mine. Sometimes you can have a little fun and call out what they’re going to do. But after the match, win or lose, I’ll go up and talk to them. The great thing about volleyball is that the relationships you form from your high school and club teams are relationships I expect to keep for the rest of my life.