By Anita Nham, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - This time last year, junior Abby Detering was playing volleyball in the O'Connell Center alongside her teammates at University of Florida.
Now, she's wearing blue and white to represent the Penn State women's volleyball team.
"It's been awesome playing for Penn State," Detering said. "The girls are amazing. I played against some of them in club, so it was really nice coming to a new program where you already know some of the girls, so it was a great welcome to come into it. But it's also Penn State. Playing with such an amazing program and coaches, it just an amazing feeling."
On August 26, Detering made her collegiate debut for the Nittany Lions in Rec Hall against West Virginia. She led the team with 29 assists while posting five digs and three kills. Despite helping the team secure the first win of the season, Detering's setting position wasn't protected. She was still splitting time with redshirt sophomore Bryanna Weiskircher. It was after her performance in the Syracuse Classic, recording 108 assists including a career-high 41 against Hofstra, that Detering took over at the setting position.
"Every day, you have to be working hard in this program," Detering said. "It's crazy, it's awesome, it's exactly what I want, I am working hard every day, so to be playing more and seeing an outcome that you want to see, it's awesome.
Starting over is never easy. With Detering only having one summer to get adjusted to Penn State, there was a lot to learn on and off the court, but the transition was made easier with the help of her teammates.
"I thought [the adjustment] was going to be a lot more challenging than what it was, but there are so many supportive people here that they helped me along the way," Detering said. "The girls are the main ones that helped me get adjusted, but not only with volleyball, but with school. They taught me where to go on campus, good places to study, even where my classes are. The girls have been amazing helping me make this an easy adjustment coming from another program."
While Detering was at Florida, she played in 36 matches in two years, so collegiate volleyball nothing new to her, but she's also bringing skills and traits that she's learned to help the Nittany Lions.
"You learn this at a young age, but the most important thing that transferred over from Florida to Penn State is just really getting to know your teammates and knowing how to play with them," Detering said. "The biggest thing is about connections for a setter and a hitter and with all your teammates, so the biggest thing coming in is knowing how the players play, how the players react well and figuring each player out to get their best effort. I know that that was a huge thing at our last program because you have to get that. The main goal is to win and you have to get everyone to play at their best. I knew that I had to transfer that right away after I transferred here."
The Mentor, Ohio native first started to get involved in volleyball because she and her older sister, Lauren, used to play the same sports, like figure skating and softball. When Lauren began to play volleyball, attending a middle school camp, Detering knew that she wanted to play too.
"I was in fourth grade, so I was the youngest kid, but I just loved it," Detering said. "I just liked how it was more of an aggressive sport while ice skating isn't really and it was more of a graceful sport."
Detering's family has supported her all her life, especially in high school when she was selected MVP of the Ohio Division II State Championship game in her freshman year and the 2013-14 Ohio Gatorade Volleyball Player of the Year. By transferring closer to home, her parents, sister and brother have been by her side every step of the way during her first season at Penn State.
"That's the best thing about being here and being in the Big Ten. My parents and my whole family are able to come to all my matches," Detering said. "They've been to every home game. My dad just came to Northwestern, so they're able to go to all my matches, and it's amazing to have them there for my last two years."
Although she always appreciates all the fans on the road, there's no better feeling than playing at Rec Hall.
"When you first go out there, the nerves kick in but now we're getting things down," Detering said. "My favorite moment has been playing at home because the crowd is so amazing and it's a really neat atmosphere. There are so many people there, so when you go, it's just all these people that are cheering for the team so you have a lot of adrenaline, but it's a great feeling."
Aside from volleyball, Detering loves waking up early to go outside to find new coffee shops, go hiking or spend time relaxing in her ENO hammock.
But now, her focus is inside Rec Hall.
"For this season, I want to win a national championship, that's definitely the goal in the end, but we have to be looking at each game, we can't just look at the end game. We have to look at the little things, the little goals before we get to the big goals. Right now, we're focusing on Michigan State and Michigan, and we're going to keep on playing from there. Overall, the big goals are winning the Big Ten and the National Championship, but right now, we want to beat Michigan State on Friday," Detering said.