Bryanna Weiskircher Mentors Penn State Volleyball’s Next Setter Gabby Blossom

Penn State setter Bryanna Weiskircher has experienced everything Big Ten volleyball has to offer. Now, the redshirt senior is imparting her wisdom on highly touted freshman Gabby Blossom, who will likely take over for her next season.

Head coach Russ Rose and Weiskircher’s teammates have routinely praised her knowledge of the game, with junior libero Kendall White saying she has the “highest IQ on the team by far” and is one of its best scouters.

“She’s always had a great serve,” Rose said. “She’s calm and she’s a good leader. She knows what the expectations are for her. I think coaches probably have a lot more meetings with their setters than I have with Bryanna, because I’m confident that she has a good handle on the game.”

Weiskircher and outside hitter Nia Reed are the only two players left on the roster with a national championship ring from 2014, a season both players spent redshirting.

Weiskircher celebrates a kill with freshman middle blocker Kaitlyn Hord.

After splitting time with Abby Detering the past two years, often sharing the court with her in a 6-2 system, Weiskircher finally secured the starting job for herself this summer.

Her spectacular kick save in the recent sweep of Ohio State checked in at No. 9 on SportsCenter’s Top 10 Plays and drew by far the biggest roar of the season from the Rec Hall crowd.

As one of the team’s captains, Weiskircher is tasked with mentoring a talented group of eight freshmen, including Blossom, that arrived on campus as the No. 1 recruiting class for 2018.

Blossom, a St. Louis native, won the prestigious Andi Collins Award as the nation’s top high school setter and was named an Under Armour All-American alongside future teammate Jonni Parker, a right side with plenty of experience setting.

Both Blossom and Parker earned Gatorade State Player of the Year honors for Missouri and Ohio, respectively. As roommates in Kansas City last December, they had a chance to become more familiar before heading to Penn State.

“It allowed us to get closer and just talk about what the future would bring,” Parker said. “It was a great time. She brings a lot of energy to the court no matter what she’s doing.”

Blossom (middle) has seen action in every match so far this season.

Blossom has come off the bench in all 17 matches so far this season, occupying a variety of roles for the Nittany Lions. She gives Weiskircher a breather at setter late in sure sweeps, heads to the service line, and contributes some pretty impressive defense.

“Penn State was my dream school,” Blossom said. “I never thought that it would happen. I was lucky enough where it did end up happening. As soon as they offered me, I committed.”

Blossom has 42 digs, 34 assists, and four aces heading into Saturday’s biggest home match of the regular season against No. 5 Nebraska, a team that has beaten the Nittany Lions in each of their last seven meetings.

Both Blossom and Weiskircher, who hails from Rockford, Illinois, grew up following their older sisters to club volleyball tournaments, meaning they were often on the road absorbing the intricacies of the game from the stands.

“Bryanna is awesome,” Blossom said. “B is another coach to me. I remember when I first got here, she was the one that was helping me with classes. She’s the one I text if anything’s ever going wrong. In volleyball, it’s been incredible learning from her. This is her fifth year. She’s a baller.”

Blossom’s instant energy off the bench is unmistakable.

Blossom said she draws inspiration from the playing styles of Micha Hancock, Alisha Glass, and Minnesota’s Samantha Seliger-Swenson.

“She was a huge reason why I wanted to come here,” Blossom said of Hancock, who was the catalyst behind Penn State’s most recent national championship run.

Weiskicher notched a season high 50 assists in Wednesday’s 3-1 win over Purdue in West Lafayette. If the Nittany Lions conquer their demons and finally beat Nebraska this Saturday, the sure-handed Weiskircher will have certainly played a part.

“Obviously, Penn State volleyball, we always expect a lot,” she said. “At the end of the year it’s to win that national title. It doesn’t matter whether we have eight freshmen. I came in with a group of eight freshmen and we had that same goal.”

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About the Author

Ethan Kasales

Ethan’s a senior journalism major who grew up in Lemont, a few minutes from campus. When he’s not covering Penn State sports, you can usually find him golfing or teaching snowboarding at Tussey Mountain. Feel free to email him at [email protected].

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