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29/09/2017 11:03
Anne Buijs: Fun, joy and positive vibes explain Dutch success
2017 CEV Volleyball European Championship - Women

Baku, Azerbaijan, September 29, 2017. On Thursday afternoon, the Netherlands put on a show as they thrashed Italy 3-0 to secure their spot in the 2017 women’s EuroVolley semis and Anne Buijs played a leading role in securing such a dominant victory for the players in orange shirts. Buijs is the second best scorer for the Netherlands in the tournament – with an impressive tally of 67 points, second only to Lonneke Slöetjes who has amassed 79 so far.

The still only 25-year-old Anne comes from a Volleyball family, with her father Teun being a renowned coach and mum Irene Pelser a former member of the Dutch national team back in the ‘80s. Her brother has played Volleyball as well, so you can rightfully say that the sport is in the genes of the Buijs family. “Mom and dad have always been extremely supportive because they know how demanding and challenging the life of a professional athlete can be. If I am who I am and stand where I stand, it’s also because of their good parenting,” Buijs reveals. “Of course, sometimes I do not like talking about Volleyball all the time or the remarks that come in after one or the other game, but we are open and honest enough to tell each other that at some point it is enough of Volleyball and we can move on to another subject.”

Anne started her professional career back home in the Netherlands under the guidance of Avital Selinger. “That is where I learned the basics, even though obviously my parents taught me quite a lot too. I remember I had to combine my duties at school with some seven, eight hours a day of practice, so that was quite demanding but this is where it all got started.”

She is only 25 but Buijs has already played in as many as six countries on top of the Netherlands. That was not just a coincidence. “I have always tried to follow a route taking me to places and to coaches I could learn something from. I started with Belgium and Asterix KIELDRECHT, where I worked with Gert Vande Broek, and it was quite a smooth transition because we share the same culture and language and I was not living too far away from home. After that, I went to Germany, which is also quite close to us, before spending one year in Italy with Carlo Parisi in Busto Arsizio.”

After that, she moved to Azerbaijan together with her father playing for Lokomotiv BAKU – before the ‘big thing’ came as she joined Turkey’s heavyweight VakifBank ISTANBUL. “That was such a unique opportunity to join one of the best teams in the world and to work with Giovanni Guidetti, who at the time was also the coach of our national team, so how could I say no? I wish I could have stayed there but they signed Zhu Ting, so it became a little bit difficult for me, so I went to Brazil to play for Rexona RIO DE JANEIRO under the guidance of Bernardinho, the winner of three Olympic gold medals, so that was also a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

After the EuroVolley, she will return to Turkey to play for Nilüfer Belediyesi in Bursa. “They have a good coach and have set high goals for the coming season, after signing me and a Brazilian middle blocker [Ana Carolina Da Silva], so I am really looking forward to the next chapter of my Volleyball career.”

Together with the Dutch national team, Anne is a silver medallist from the 2015 EuroVolley and now she has set her sights on another medal. “Coming here, we said that our goal was to win a medal – but of course we want to win any tournament we contest. Yesterday we played a very good match with Italy, and put so much pressure on them that they could never find their rhythm and game. We still do not know who our opponent in the semis will be – but if it is Azerbaijan, we very much hope we can make amends for that painful loss we suffered to them earlier this summer in the second round of qualifications to the World Championship!”

What is the secret behind the success of the team in orange? “I think we are a very strong group, we always stick together and help each other. There is a lot of quality and depth in the team – so if someone has a bad day, another player is ready to step in and help. We also play for every point and fight for every rally as if it was the last. This is something we learned from our previous coach Guidetti – and something you can learn from other elite athletes as well. Rafael Nadal, for instance, has admitted he plays every point as if that was the all-deciding one.”

There is, however, another few things who make the ‘Volleyballdames’ so successful. “I think the fans feel and sense the joy and fun we have while playing and we are able to share these positive feelings and vibes with them,” Buijs adds. “This is probably what draws so much attention and love from the people in the stands and from those watching from home too.”

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