Former North Union spiker Journey Blevins sends the ball over the net in this file photo. The University of Findlay athlete is in line for her collegiate conference freshman of the year honor. (Journal-Tribune photo)
Former North Union volleyball player Journey Blevins, now an Oiler at the University of Findlay, has been making the case for freshman of the year honors in the Great Midwest Athletic Conference North Division.
She is in the running for the award after tallying three player of the week honors.
Blevins will learn whether she wins the award during the middle of January.
She has helped lead Findlay to an overall record of 14-8, 10-4 in the conference.
She’s also among the conference leaders in several statistical categories.
“It’s definitely an adjustment,” Blevins told The Marysville Journal-Tribune about the differences between high school and college volleyball.
Blevins was a standout at North Union, as she was named first-team All-Ohio and honored as the Central District Player of the Year.
She also claimed two first-team all-district honors and voted as the Central Buckeye Conference player of the year in 2020.
Her resume going into the University of Findlay was something of which to take notice.
Her production began during her first week of school.
Blevins earned her first conference offensive player of the week on Sept. 14.
She claimed the award after debuting her standout performance at the Nova Southeastern Invitational held in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
“I definitely wasn’t expecting it,” Blevins said. “To be honest, I didn’t a think about awards in college.”
In a weekend filled with competition, Blevins started out with 16 kills and a .414 hitting percentage as the team overcame Millersville for the first match.
She continued to move heads after leading the Oilers to three wins while personally tallying 64 kills — 4.0 per set — and a .419 hitting percentage.
“I was really grateful for it (the award),” said Blevins.
The Richwood native was selected for the all-tournament team.
Within her first week on the court, Blevins was already leading the conference in kills per set and ranked second in hitting percentage.
The good vibes and performance from Blevins did not stop.
For a second consecutive week, the freshman earned the honor on Sept. 21.
“At that point I started to gain a lot of confidence because… I know I can do well,” said Blevins. “I just struggled with my confidence and my play.
“As a freshman, it helped me get a pedestal for leadership.”
In the week prior, the team swept through two conference matches, toppling Walsh University and Malone University to open conference play for a 2-0 record.
Blevins notched 17 kills against Walsh and 16 against Malone.
That calculated to 5.5 kills per set.
At that point in the season, Blevins led the league in points per set at 4.59 and kills per set at 4.41.
For what some would call an already impressive start to her collegiate career, Blevins stayed hungry for more.
She earned another offensive player of the week award on Oct. 27 after guiding the Oilers to a 2-0 record with the wins coming against Tiffin University and Ashland University.
“I didn’t expect it,” Blevins said. “Every week since the second [award], I’d been working really hard to get another one.
“If I know I can do it, I’m going to try.”
The former Lady Cat started the week with a strong performance against Tiffin. In three sets, she claimed 19 kills while recording a .515 hitting percentage — her second highest of the season. She also had eight digs and three aces in the win.
Blevins was then all over the court against Ashland, recording 23 kills, 16 digs and two blocks in a five-set saga.
Blevins’ standout performances through the season notched 297 kills for 4.41 per set — ranking second in the conference.
She also ended the season in the top ten in terms of hitting percentage.
Even though the awards are in her name, Blevins’ journey through the sport, since the seventh grade, has been anything but a lone road.
“I am just really thankful for my mom,” Blevins said. “She watches almost every single game.”
Setting an example for current North Union players, Blevins stated that her biggest piece of advice is simple… work overtime.
“I know this is cliché, but just put in the extra hours,” she said. “Find a reason why you want to do it.
“I get really obsessed with things – that’s just how my personality is – and volleyball was an outlet for me growing up.”