Senior middle blocker Ashlee Hilbun has calculated 730 kills, 500 digs and 1,830 attack attempts over her collegiate career, but her contributions as a teammate extend beyond the court.
Hilbun participated in a club volleyball team with fellow teammate and senior right-side hitter Amari Deardorff throughout her junior and senior years of high school. Both players went to high schools 8.3 miles from each other, competing against the other as district opponents. Deardorff explained her experiences playing against and with Hilbun, finding an instant respect for her game and character.
“As rivals in high school, it was fun to finally get to be on the same team with her,” Deardorff said. “She was always the best player on her high school volleyball team and definitely a very competitive person. After I heard that she signed on at Texas State, I started to put a lot more consideration with being part of the program myself.”
Hilbun talked about the bond she and Deardorff were able to form during those two years on the club team and how they prepared for their final year together at Texas State.
“We became really close during club (volleyball),” Hilbun said. “I think these past three years have helped us become even closer as teammates and friends. After last season with the team ranking so low in the conference, we talked a lot during the summer, figuring out how we were going to get ourselves and the team winning again.”
Both players have combined for 373 kills and 105 assisted blocks during this season. Hilbun ranks second on the team in kills, totaling 164 on the year and a team-best .339 hitting percentage, which places her fourth in Sun Belt Conference standings. Hilbun recorded a career-high 24 kills against former WAC rival UTSA earlier in the season, helping the team pull out the win in five sets.
“Ashlee was nothing like the kind of player (she was) her freshman year that she is now,” said Coach Karen Chisum. “Her improvement over the years has been due to her work ethic, dedication and commitment to the Texas State volleyball program. Her game against UTSA was one of the best performances I’ve seen from a middle blocker in a long time.”
Hilbun has averaged 7.25 kills and contributed 37 points since her game against the Roadrunners. Chisum said a particular moment during the game against nationally ranked Western Kentucky, which was the first SBC road loss for the team, exemplified Hilbun as a leader.
“One of the fun things about my job is watching young girls develop into young women,” Chisum said. “Ashlee can be one of the grittiest individuals on the team. Most recently, during a timeout against Western Kentucky, I didn’t even have to say anything to the players. It was Ashlee that really got after them. She wants her last year to be as good as possible.”
Texas State has a conference record of 3–4 on the season, currently ranked seventh in SBC standings. However, Hilbun has no reservations about where she envisions the team and herself to be at the end of the season.
“I imagine my senior year ending with a championship ring,” Hilbun said. “I don’t expect anything less. My goal was always to get a ring my senior year and to share that with Amari (Deardorff) and the rest of the team would mean so much.”