A former Loyola Marymount University (LMU) standout women’s volleyball player headed for induction into the university’s Athletics Hall of Fame next year has died.
Kim Blankinship, 31, who attended LMU from 1993 to 1996 and is one of the most accomplished women’s volleyball players in school history, died Monday night, October 16th, of heart failure, LMU officials said.
“We’re devastated,” LMU athletic director Bill Husak said. “She was really in the prime of her life and had her future in front of her.
“Our fans who had seen her play think that she’s one of the best women’s volleyball players ever to don a jersey at LMU.”
During her career at LMU, Blankinship led the Lions to three West Coast Conference (WCC) women’s volleyball titles and three National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) postseason appearances.
In her senior year, the Lions reached the Sweet Sixteen in the NCAA tournament and finished the season ranked ninth in the nation.
The team had an overall record of 26-3 that year with an undefeated WCC record of 14-0, and it remains the best season in LMU women’s volleyball history.
Blankinship, who played outside hitter for the Lions, was named WCC Defensive Player of the Year as a junior, when she set the LMU record for single-season service aces and service-ace average.
Her records of 66 aces and .68 service-ace average per game still stand.
She became only the third athlete in program history to earn an All-America selection when she was named to the Volleyball Magazine All-America third team as a senior.
Blankinship’s achievements that year also earned her the honors of LMU Female Athlete of the Year and WCC Co-Player of the Year.
While she graduated from LMU ten years ago, her statistical marks still rank her in the program’s all-time top-ten in eight different categories.
As one of LMU’s most accomplished female athletes, Blankinship was selected for induction into the LMU Athletics Hall of Fame prior to her death. She will be inducted in January with five other athletes and the 1986 baseball team, Husak said.
Blankinship was chosen for the Hall of Fame not only for her individual achievements, but because she was “one of the key ingredients” on a team that experienced the program’s best season, Husak said.
“She was part of a special group of young women whose achievements still stand prominently,” Husak said.
LMU women’s volleyball coach Steve Stratos, who coached Blankinship all four years on the team, said she was an unselfish player who had a passion for the game and was dedicated to excellence.
“She always enjoyed it more when teammates received awards,” Stratos said.
Blankinship was a “ferocious” competitor who had intensity and was not willing to give up — qualities which helped make her such a “tremendous athlete,” Stratos said.
Even after graduating from LMU, Blankinship continued to stay involved with the program and inspire the athletes, he said.
“She has been a constant inspiration from the time she left (LMU),” Stratos said.