Blair Bashen, SJS '07, a red shirt sophomore for the Purdue University Volleyball team, is not surprisingly, specializing in defense for the Boilermakers. #14 led the team in digs to help sweep Louiville and win the ACTIVE ANKLE CHALLENGE this past weekend.
Pat Krieger, SJS Athletic Director and Bashen's former basketball coach, described Blair as “one of the hardest workers that relished the role of defending the opponent’s best player face to face.”
As defense became her trademark in high school and now in college, Blair was able to get a taste of offense a time or two. “Some of the greatest moments in Blair's career here were the ‘facials’ she planted on the competition. In football that is called a ‘pancake,’” said James Fuller, Head St. John’s Volleyball coach. “That was the icing on the cake of a work ethic that she developed in the off-season to give her the chance she has now at the D1 level."
Those blasts of the past may have left “Mizuno” on a few foreheads, but three years and levels later, it is still about “D” for Bashen and her Boilermakers, ranked # 30 in the AVCA Coaches’ Poll.
Bashen plays on the back row at ds/libero, far from her offensive job as a Maverick, but a treasured spot nonetheless. For a player who got into the game of volleyball late in high school, she is on the floor a lot for a Division 1 college program that was not so sure she would make it. “When I first arrived the coaches did not believe I could stay on the team much less find a forte,” Bashen said. They told me I was not a very good defender, and that was all it took to prove them wrong.”
Blair went to work. She practiced on passing, had teammates hit kills at her to get used to the speed of the college game, and found out what a facial really felt like more than once. “At this level if you blink you can catch one on the chin, but we just laugh at each other when that happens,” said #14.
The difference between athletic challenges at St. John’s and Purdue is wider than the Wabash in West Lafayette, but some athletes with “real talent” like Blair find a way to get it done. “As the competition gets tougher I go to my default of defense, said Blair. Whether it was on a St. John’s squad or now at the college level, if you want to find a niche, defense is invaluable to a team. D is about desire and is all ‘mentality,’ a phrase we use a lot up here.”
More inclined to know the type of wood a court is made from than the score, Blair uses her defensive drive to stay literally on the ground floor of Division 1 NCAA volleyball. Digging to help the Boilermakers climb in the polls, Blair’s next facial will hopefully be at the spa, not in the gym!