Whitewater alums Annnika (left) and Teegan Van Gunst give the Georgia Tech volleyball team a formidable duo. (Photos Courtesy of Georgia Tech Athletics)

VanGunstA_VanGunstT_090615_DKby Mary Ramsaier

After winning two state volleyball championships at Whitewater, Annika Van Gunst and Teegan Van Gunst earned the opportunity to showcase their talents at Georgia Tech.
Playing both soccer and volleyball competitively and successfully posed a problem for the twins’ college decision. Annika said she was set on playing soccer in college until nearly time to make their choice. Tech wanted the pair to both join their volleyball squad. After a month of pondering, the decision was made to be Yellow Jackets.
The twins are heading into their final season at Tech in 2016 with high expectations to make the NCAA Tournament. After losing two crucial matches toward the end of their schedule, Tech was out of the running for postseason this past season.
Completing their junior season, Annika and Teegan were named to the Nebraska Ameritas Players Challenge All- Tournament Team. The duo earned their honors, taking the top two spots on the team for kills for the season. Teegan set a Tech record for the most kills in a season with 471, followed by Annika with 307 kills.
Besides leading the team in kills, Teegan led the ACC in kills, kills per set (3.92), and was second in points per set (1.33). She became the first Yellow Jacket to earn All-ACC first-team, AVCA All-Region, and AVCA All-America honorable mention honors since Monique Mead in 2012. Teegan started all 120 sets in 2015 and scored 20 double-doubles. She tallied 25 matches with 10-plus kills, and 23 matches with 10-plus digs.
Teegan’s successful season brought her an invitation to the National Collegiate Tournament. The tryout was hosted by USA Volleyball at the Olympic training center in Colorado. Three hundred girls were invited to tryout, and only 60 made the cut. Teegan was then invited to the Indianapolis group with 36 other players to compete.
“Meeting new girls around the country was the best part,” Teegan said. “They were all enjoyable to be around and competitive”
Teegan said that the program made her embrace volleyball even more and appreciate the dedication required because it comes with a bigger reward.
Playing at the collegiate level is a huge step up from high school and club volleyball, especially transitioning into one of the best institutes in the world. Both sisters agreed time management is the key to their success at Tech. Loading their schedules with sports, clubs, and AP classes in high school prepared the twins for Georgia Tech.
As upper classmen, they shared their experiences with younger players to prepare their teammates to succeed.
“Look, it’s going to be a grind,” Annika said. “Being away on the weekends and having a test on Monday, you have to study on the road. It’s a grind.”
Blocking out the stress of school can be difficult when stepping on the court, but Annika said that chilling and listening to the pump-up music in the locker room sets her mood for matches.
Teegan believes the biggest transition from high school to college is grasping the mental side of the game.
“Learning the game mentality and not let the stakes get to me,” Teegan said is key.  “I have to come out everyday to win consistently and to be successful. “
Though playing volleyball is a priority, being a student comes first, as all their coaches emphasize. As the Van Gunst twins put school first, it has paid off as both were names to the ACC Honor Roll and Academic All-ACC.
“Enjoy your time playing because is are limited,” Teegan said. “Remember you’re going to college for an education.  It will carry you out for the rest of your career.”