Marquette Wire

Volleyball: Blasier, Miley glad they chose MU

Both players adjusting well after transferring before this season

Redshirt+junior+setter+Sara+Blasier+leads+the+team+in+assists.+Photo+by+Doug+Peters%2Fdouglas.peters%40marquette.edu
Redshirt junior setter Sara Blasier leads the team in assists. Photo by Doug Peters/douglas.peters@marquette.edu

Redshirt junior setter Sara Blasier leads the team in assists. Photo by Doug Peters/douglas.peters@marquette.edu

Redshirt junior setter Sara Blasier leads the team in assists. Photo by Doug Peters/douglas.peters@marquette.edu

Andrew Goldstein, andrew.goldstein@mu.edu

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A year ago, Sara Blasier and Joy Miley were a long way from Milwaukee.

Blasier was the starting setter for Rice University in Houston, which notched 23 wins and nearly made the NCAA Tournament. Miley played outside hitter for California State University, Long Beach, one of the most prestigious volleyball programs in the country. Blasier was pre-med. Miley was studying to be a veterinarian.

These were two young women, both of them accomplished and well-regarded athletes, yet something was missing for Blasier and Miley.

“I just wasn’t as happy as I thought I would be with the volleyball there,” said Blasier, a native of Hartford. “I also wanted to be closer to home, so I came back here.”

For Miley, her frustrations with Cal State Long Beach stemmed from the academic aspect of being a student-athlete.

“I wasn’t able to pursue the major I wanted to pursue there,” she said. “I wasn’t able to take all the classes I needed to take when I had to do both beach volleyball (in the Fall) and indoor volleyball (in the spring).”

Ultimately, both players made the decision to transfer following the conclusion of last year’s season. However, the way in which both players arrived at Marquette was different. Marquette head coach Ryan Theis had already recruited Blasier when he was the head coach at Ohio University, so Blasier decided to consider Marquette based, in part, on that familiarity.

Miley, a Downey, California native, had no prior contact with either Marquette or Coach Theis. She described her transfer experience as putting herself out on the market, much like a free agent would in professional sports.

“You just kind of put yourself out there and see if any coaches are interested,” Miley said. “(Coach Theis) emailed me and asked if I would like to come on a visit, so of course I agreed to it.”

Both players liked Marquette enough to announce their enrollment in early 2015. Blasier announced her intentions to join Marquette on January 15, and Miley’s announcement came soon after on February 24.

Both players entered Marquette with two years of athletic eligibility remaining, and both are playing crucial roles for the Golden Eagles this year. Blasier is front and center in the Marquette offense as the starting setter, and her average pace of 10.58 assists per set suggests that she has had no trouble picking up right where she left off at Rice.

Miley has been forced to take on more of a complimentary role. Even though she has the second-most kills and attempts on the team, Marquette’s offense mostly centers around freshman wunderkind Taylor Louis, who has more than twice as many kills and attempts as Miley does. However, Miley says that she is not bothered by the disparity.

“Taylor’s an amazing player,” Miley said. “You just have to do the best you can as a player, and hopefully that will get you time on the court.”

Miley and Blasier both say that they feel completely acclimated to Marquette, although Blasier noted that she definitely did not miss the Wisconsin cold when she was in Texas.

“I hadn’t been in cold weather in two-and-a-half years,” she said. “I’d walk outside (when I got back to Wisconsin), and my eyes would start watering because it was so cold.”

Blasier received an equally chilly reception from her former team when she told them that she planned to transfer. Blasier said her old teammates at Rice were “not very happy at all” when they heard the news, and the vast majority of them still refuse to talk to her.

“They didn’t understand that I was leaving for my own reasons and thought that I was abandoning them,” Blasier said. “It was hard because I was close to some of them… but I was the starting setter and I just sort of left, so I can see why they were upset.”

Blasier’s story reflects the core dilemma of an athlete who is considering a transfer: Do you leave your old team behind to try and attain a better future for yourself, or do you sacrifice your own happiness (and your future, to some extent) for the good of your teammates? It can be an incredibly difficult decision, but both Blasier and Miley say that they do not regret choosing the first option.

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