Blum’s Powerful Play Took
Hutch Volleyball To New Heights
Hundreds of players have worn the Hutchinson Community College volleyball uniform since the program’s inception in 1974.
But only one player caused such a seismic shift with a level of play never seen before in Hutchinson. She instantaneously transformed Blue Dragon Volleyball into a national power almost overnight.
Mariana Blum was a 5-foot-10 outside hitter from Sao Bernardo, Brazil. Whether it was a pulverizing attack at the net or devastating jump serve, Blue Dragon fans quickly found out that Blum was a transcendent-type of player.
Blum, along with fellow Class of 2017 member Traci Gisel-Neely, is the first female athletes to enter the HCC Quarterback Club Hall of Fame.
Blum was Hutchinson Volleyball’s first two-time NJCAA All-American, earning first-team status in both 2004 and 2005. She was also a two-time first-team AVCA All-American. Blum also earned 2004 Jayhawk West Freshman of the Year honors.
A fierce competitor, Blum was a six-position player who led the Blue Dragons to 78 victories in two seasons, which included two conference and two Region VI titles as well as a fifth- and eighth-place finishes at the NJCAA Tournament.
“I love being an all-around player,” Blum said. “I love every aspect of the game and I have always wanted to be someone reliable to my team on every aspect. Whatever I had to do to get the job done I would most definitely do it.”
Early in the 2004 fall camp, Just a few days after her arrival in Hutchinson, it was a culture shock for Blum – both the new environment and her new coach, Ronda Shirley.
“At first I was in shock because I didn’t know much English so it was hard to keep up,” she recalled. “After a while and running a few extra stairs I understood (Coach Shirley’s) style a little better. She is an amazing coach, mom as well as a person.”
Blum absolutely re-wrote the Blue Dragon volleyball record books.
At the time of her induction, Blum holds career records for kills (1,225), kills per set (4.57), service aces (317), aces per set (1.18), total digs (1,242) and digs per set (4.63). She still has single-season records with 641 kills in 2004, 5.43 kills per set in 2004, total aces (160), aces per set (1.36), digs (731) and digs per set (4.87).
Blum is the single-match record holder for service aces (14 vs. Blinn in 2005), consecutive aces (12 vs. Northwest-Shoals in the NJCAA Tournament), 28 kills vs. West Plains in the 2004 NJCAA Tournament.
Regardless of all the eye-popping individual numbers, Blum will always be synonymous with the magical Blue Dragon Volleyball season of 2004.
Blum debuted with a 21-kill, seven-dig, four-ace performance against Cowley College on August 27, 2004 at the HCC Invitational. She finished that opening weekend with 89 kills in 15 sets and set the tone for a 5-0 start to the season. Blum posted 24 regular-season double-doubles and led the 2004 Blue Dragons to a 37-0 regular season – Hutch dropped two sets all regular-season long – and a No. 2 NJCAA national ranking.
On October 20, 2004, Blum and the Blue Dragons faced Barton with a 21-year losing streak ready to be snapped and a Jayhawk West title waiting to be won. Blum had 11 kills and 11 digs as Hutch swept Barton for the program’s first conference title in volleyball. She averaged nearly six kills per set as Hutch buzzed through Barton and Seward County twice in the Region VI Tournament and punched Hutch’s ticket to nationals for the first time.
“Quite honestly I didn’t even notice,” Blum said of the largest audience in Blue Dragon Volleyball history of 1,200 at the Sports Arena. “I’ve always been pretty good at focusing on our team and forgetting everything else that was around. After the game I noticed and was like wow but before or during not really.”
After a crushing five-set loss to Indian Hills in the national quarterfinals, Blum wasn’t about to let the Blue Dragons go quietly at the 2004 NJCAA Tournament. Blum put the Blue Dragons on her back with a scintillating 20-kill performance in a four-set consolation-round win over Southwest Missouri State-West Plains and led Hutch to a fifth-place national finish with sweep of Frank Phillips College in the fifth-place match.
“My favorite memory was beating West Plains at National on their home court,” Blum said. “We went four games and I remember my right leg was cramping, the trainer told me to sit that last game out and I couldn’t do it. I needed to finish, we wanted to win, that was very hard but extremely worth the effort.”
The 2004 Blue Dragons finished with a 43-1 record and a set record of 131-6.
From Hutchinson, Blum played two years at the University of Oklahoma. She then played professionally in Puerto Rico, Argentina, Spain and now in her home country of Brazil.