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Penn State Women’s Volleyball’s Gabby Blossom Finding Success In New Starting Role

For most people, the first day at a new job can be an awkward and intimidating experience. The transition is often hard and uncomfortable, and it usually takes a while to find your place and get in the groove of things.

However, that can’t be said for Penn State women’s volleyball starting setter Gabby Blossom. Blossom, who now has four starts at the position under her belt, has quickly and comfortably taken on a full-time role with the Nittany Lions in her second year with the team.

Her productivity on the court gave the Nittany Lions a huge boost throughout the Penn State Classic when Penn State swept Hofstra, Holy Cross, and Wichita State in straight sets. The sophomore setter finished the tournament with a whopping 103 assists — 38 of which came against the Crusaders. Blossom also flashed her defensive prowess, diving for 10 digs and recording three blocks over the weekend.

Blossom is quite used to putting her diverse skill set to work for Rose’s program. While Blossom came off the bench in every match of the 2018 season, she primarily played as a defensive specialist for the team, and she was darn good at it. The former Under Armour All-American ended the season with 99 digs — good for sixth on the team.

The St. Louis native also has a knack for serving. She tallied 11 service aces in 2018, and she’s well on her way to surpassing the mark with five so far this season.

The Nittany Lions’ star was able to sharpen her defensive skills under former Penn State setter Bryanna Weiskircher, who graduated last spring. Weiskircher took Blossom under her wing throughout her freshman year and acted as a role model, giving her tips and helping her develop both as a setter and as a defensive player. Needless to say, Weiskircher left the team in good hands when she handed Blossom the reins.

Blossom’s impressive start to the season has also given Penn State’s middle blockers, namely sophomores Kaitlyn Hord and Serena Gray, a chance to shine in the limelight. The pair combined for 63 kills over the weekend on .655 hitting — a mark that’s likely just the beginning for the standout duo. Hord and Gray’s success has certainly eased Blossom into her new role.

“We probably have two of the best middle [blockers] in the country on our team,” Blossom said. “As a setter, getting to set people like that is very fun. It makes my job really easy. They’re big, they’re up in the air, and they’re easy targets to try and set.”

Serena Gray gives Blossom credit for setting the ball high enough to allow her to hit well while avoiding sets that were too low. Gray remarked that their mutual, unspoken trust has helped the pair dominate on the court so far this season.

Blossom noted in a post-game press conference Saturday that working alongside talented hitters such as Hord, Gray, and Jonni Parker also gives her a boost of confidence — even on her “bad sets.”

Unlike her teammates, Blossom doesn’t attribute any of her success to superstition. Defensive specialist Jenna Hampton, for example, folds only her left sock and eats only pineapple and grapes ahead of every game, while Serena Gray always listens to a Daniel Caesar playlist before warming up.

Blossom hasn’t let the team’s lack of depth or her new role as the Nittany Lions’ full-time setter change her mindset heading into the 2019 season. For her, each match is just business as usual.

“It’s definitely the same mentality [as before],” Blossom said. “Whether it was last year or this year, it’s always the same. You want to win every game. No matter what your role is on the team, you want to win.”

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About the Author

Matt DiSanto

Matt is a junior majoring in journalism and is Onward State's managing editor. He's a huge Philadelphia sports fan, fantasy football aficionado, and washed-up drummer hailing from Collegeville, Pa. The quickest way to his heart is Margherita pizza. He loves Seinfeld, is really into video games, and would wipe the floor with you in Halo. Follow him on Twitter @mattdisanto_ for bad sports takes or email him at [email protected]

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