‘This is where I’m meant to be’: Sac State volleyball player sets team up for success
Sophomore setter Ashtin Olin has 1,158 assists this season
November 25, 2019
Sacramento State sophomore setter Ashtin Olin stood at the net during a rotation waiting for Utah State University to serve the ball during the first preseason match of 2018.
To those in attendance, it was just another volleyball match. But for Olin, it was her first-ever collegiate game, a moment she said she goes back to any time she begins to feel stressed or frustrated.
“I just had this overwhelming sense of just realization, like this is where I’m meant to be,” Olin said. “This is what I’m supposed to do with myself right now. I just love this. It was a really good feeling.”
Several games later, Olin suffered a partially-torn meniscus that caused her to miss the last few games of the preseason.
“I was running for a ball and it kind of gave out on me, I fell and (my knee) felt really unstable,” Olin said. “I had just learned in kinesiology about ACL tears and all that stuff, like knee injuries. And I was like, ‘I jinxed myself. I gave myself bad luck.’”
Olin returned to the court just in time for the first Big Sky Conference game of the season against the University of Montana. She played the rest of the season in a brace before undergoing surgery and physical therapy during winter break to fully heal her knee.
Despite the injury, Olin ranked fifth in the Big Sky in assists with 1,146 and was named second team all-Big Sky during the 2018 season.
The Pasco, Washington native’s interest in volleyball began young as she grew up watching her mom play in adult leagues. Olin said her mom, Sandra Olin, is her biggest inspiration. Sandra was a middle blocker at the University of Portland for two years.
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Olin said her dream was to be a middle just like her mom, but that when she tried out for her high school team, the coach told her she was going to be a setter.
“I hated it,” Olin said. “I wanted that feeling you get when you get a kill, and I was like ‘I’m never going to get that ever again.’ Then I remember setting my hitter, the one I had a really good connection with, and she got a good kill off it, and I got that same feeling I got when I got a kill. That’s when my love sparked for setting.”
Olin said setting has forced her to grow and become a leader on and off the court.
In her junior year of high school, head volleyball coach Ruben Volta offered Olin a five-year scholarship to continue her volleyball career as a setter at Sac State. Volta said when he saw Olin play for the first time, he noted her physicality and ability to block well.
“She plays this game pretty passionately to the point that she’s probably one of the most energetic players on the court all the time,” Volta said.
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In her first year at Sac State, Olin took a redshirt season. At the time, the Hornets already had a starting setter. Olin said that redshirting gave her time to develop her skills and made the transition from high school and club volleyball to collegiate volleyball a lot smoother.
Even though Olin did not play a single game, her passion for the game and energetic personality still shone through from the sidelines.
“Being on the bench, I remember I was like, ‘I’m not playing, so I’m going to be the best benchwarmer I can possibly be,’” Olin said. “So, I was like ‘I’m going to cheer my heart off. I don’t even care what other people think. I’m going to scream my head off.’”
According to junior outside hitter Macey Hayden, Olin’s roommate, that energy is present at all times, even off the court.
“She’s crazy,” Hayden said. “She’s insane. She’s hilarious. But, she’s also probably one of the kindest people I’ve ever met. She goes out of her way to make other people happy (and when she senses) someone else is feeling bad, she’ll be the first one to ask you, ‘Are you OK?’ She just has a huge heart.”
Hayden and Olin enjoy frequenting open mics and small local concerts together when they aren’t training. Most recently, they attended an event called Sofar Sounds Sacramento.
Sofar Sounds Sacramento offers intimate gigs to attendees, but the location, time and performers aren’t announced until the day of the event.
On a smaller scale, Olin said she likes her quiet time as she frequents small local coffee shops in Midtown Sacramento to read novels after she attends church on Sundays.
“I’m a big fantasy person,” Olin said. “I’m reading ‘Earthsea’ right now. It was a series that I never got to read when I was younger. I think ‘Harry Potter’ is just really good, it’s a classic. I just like fantasy, magic, dragons and stuff like that.”
Olin, who admitted to eating Sour Patch Kids and Skittles before matches, has recorded 1,158 assists, 39 aces and 314 digs this season. She currently ranks sixth in the Big Sky in assists.
It was announced Monday that Olin was named second team all-Big Sky for the second consecutive season.
Olin was also named the Big Sky’s Offensive Player of the week for the week of Oct. 14 after she helped lead the Hornets to victories over Idaho State University and Weber State University with 123 assists over the two matches.
“She really is one of those players that it doesn’t matter, she is going to throw her body on the court and worry about getting every ball up and also worry about how her performance is to others,” Hayden said. “As a setter, she’s setting every hitter and she’s constantly asking us ‘How was that set? What can I do to make it better?’ She’s just really good on self-improving herself.
“She has that inner motivation that every really good athlete needs.”
Olin and the Sac State volleyball team host the Big Sky Tournament at The Nest beginning Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 28.