The San Jose State Spartans began their 2010 volleyball season Aug. 27 on the road against North Dakota. Freshman outside hitter Hanah Blume was on the Spartan bench.
FORMER SONORA WILDCAT star and then-collegiate-freshman Hanah Blume delivers one of her patented atomic spikes during the 2010 season for San Jose State. Blume led the 2010 Spartans in kills. TERRELL LLOYD/SAN JOSE ATHLETICS
“I wasn’t expected to play at all,” recalled Blume. “I had re-strained a groin injury.”
Mid-match, Spartan four-year head coach Oscar Crespo inserted Blume, a three-year varsity star for Sonora High (class of 2010), into the contest.
“It was pretty scary,” said Blume. “Basically, we were losing, so my coach just put me in.”
“From our side of it, the coaching side, Hanah was prepared,” recalled Crespo. “She had been practicing well. She did have a strain and was just a freshman still developing and, perhaps, she wasn’t planning on playing. But, to me, she had earned her spot. As a frosh, I could imagine that she would be, at first, nervous. But her instincts took over, she stayed focused and she held her own.”
While North Dakota won the match, Blume had a kill and dig in her first ever NCAA contest.
And Crespo clearly liked what he saw.
In Game No. 2, Blume came off the bench vs. Gonzaga and had seven kills and six digs. For San Jose’s third match (vs. Drake), Blume was in the starting lineup and had a team-high nine kills and 15 digs.
Blume, from that point forward, never left the starting lineup.
In 2010, Blume led San Jose State in kills, was second in digs and earned a spot on the Western Athletic Conference All-Freshman team.
“What most impressed me about Hanah in her freshman season was her competitive spirit,” said Crespo. “Obviously, she is one powerful attacker. But what stood out is she hates to lose. She has this feisty competitive streak in her. She’s a very respectful type of athlete and down to earth but she will not get intimidated. There’s a huge difference in the speed of the game from high school to this level and Hanah simply embraced the change.
“When I was recruiting her out of high school, I’d seen her play quite a few times and saw that drive in her that I like to see in athletes. She just carried that with her from high school to us.”
“To lead San Jose State in kills as a freshman is quite an accomplishment to me,” said Sonora athletic director Rick Francis. “As great an achievement as that is, it didn’t surprise me. The reason it didn’t surprise me is because Hanah is so competitive.”
Does Francis remember when he first noticed Blume’s ultra-competitive side?
“I sure do,” says Francis with a smile. “The very first second she checked into high school.”
Blume was the preeminent torpedo in her three varsity seasons at Sonora. She led the Cats to two outright Valley Oak League championships and one co-title. The Cats’ VOL record in Blume’s three varsity seasons was 42-2. Blume earned All-Area Most Valuable Player honors in both 2009 and 2008.
Blume can sum up her favorite high school volleyball memory in two words:
“Beating Oakdale!” she says.
In Blume’s senior year, 2009, Sonora whipped its arch-rival twice and finished VOL play with an unblemished 16-0 mark.
“When she played for us,” said Francis, “we couldn’t wait for the setter to give Hanah that set so we could watch her just clobber that volleyball. It was always so exciting.”
“Hanah started to attend my summer clinics back when she was in the 8th grade,” recalled current Wildcat head coach Kim Evans. “I was immediately impressed with her athleticism and quick arm. More than that, her will to win is what has carried her so far.
“She has this mentality and confidence: ‘Give me the ball, it’s match point!’ Hanah has always been the type of player that hates to lose more than she likes to win.”
In 2010, San Jose State had a WAC record of 3-13, 8-22 overall.
“That was the difficult part because a lot of those matches we should have won,” said Blume. “We competed well with some real good teams. I hate using the excuse ‘We’re a young team.’ But the truth is we had sophomores as the core of our team last season. We have the leadership now to push ourselves and win those close games this year. We’re still growing, still building.”
“We’re building,” he says. “To finish in the middle of this conference and be regionally competitive are good goals for this upcoming season. We are young and we’re looking to take a step forward this year.”
Blume had major surgery in December to repair the shin and calf on her left leg.
“This season,” says Crespo, “what I’m looking for from Hanah is, first, for her skill set to be where it was last year. Coming off that surgery is not easy and it took the majority of spring to rehab back from. But she has been working very hard all summer. I just want her to keep bringing to us that emotional drive and explosiveness as an athlete that she possesses.”
“I wouldn’t have had as successful a freshman year without my teammates,” said Blume. “I never had expected to be taken in so well. But there was no hazing, just acceptance. My teammates believed in me and so did my coaches.”
Blume is majoring in Liberal Studies. Her minor is Kinesiology.
“Hopefully,” she says, “that will ultimately lead me into becoming a P.E. teacher and a high school volleyball coach. Volleyball has already been a huge part of my life. It will never not be a huge part of my life.”
And, by the way, Blume’s menacing, lethal spike in high school, which often demanded Richter Scale readings when ball hit floor, “has gotten better,” she says. “With all the weight training I’ve been doing, and with practicing every day, the only option for the spikes was to go up.”
“Hanah has the ability to get off the ground quickly and then she is relentless as an attacker,” said Crespo. “She’s a fighter and yet she still remains composed. She handles pressure very well. There have been quite a few attacks of hers this past year that stand out to me. But I do have one special memory of her as a freshman that I will never forget.
“We had just won a five-game home match in which Hanah was relentless and she was extremely excited. It was a big win for us and Hanah had played great. Well, our gym was all cleared out and Hanah’s dad (Dave) was in the stands. And I just wanted to go over to her and again tell her how well she played. I said, ‘Congratulations!’ But it’s what she said back to me which reminded me of how special she is, how strong a heart she has, how glad I was that we had recruited her so hard.
“So after I said, ‘Congratulations! Congratulations, Hanah,’ she turns to me, looks me in the eye and says, ‘This is just the beginning.’ ”