Megan Blackshire is a team player.

She may have led the UCSB women’s volleyball team’s offense as a middle blocker, but the sophomore Capistrano Beach, Calif., native has nothing but the team on her mind.

“I push myself to do as much as I can to help everyone else out,” Blackshire said. “I want to be there to get that sideout.”

With her .366 hitting percentage, which ranks third among all Big West players, Blackshire averaged 3.24 kills and a team-high .99 blocks per game in the 2003 season.

Although the Gauchos earned their second consecutive Big West Championship and a berth to NCAA Regionals behind her tough play at the net, Blackshire sees herself as just one piece of the puzzle that makes up the team. Head Coach Kathy Gregory sees her as a major asset for Santa Barbara’s success.

“She led us offensively in almost every game. This year she really stepped up offensively and in blocking,” Gregory said. “The biggest thing that she does is she has a great intensity.”

A former Big West Freshman of the Year, Blackshire earned a spot on this year’s All-Big West First Team. It was the American Volleyball Coaches Association, however, that set her above the curve as an All-West Region honorable mention.

“I never expected All-West Region,” Blackshire said. “Ultimately, I would love to be an All-American.”

In the meantime, Blackshire’s immediate goal is for the team to make it to the NCAA Elite Eight during the 2004 season.

“She definitely puts the team first in everything she does,” middle blocker Olivia Waldowski said. “She’s an awesome team player.”

According to Gregory, Blackshire is an exceptionally quick athlete and hits a good slide attack.

“Megan is one of the most dedicated, committed athletes I’ve ever coached,” Gregory said. “She always comes to play and gives 100 percent in every practice and every game.”

Blackshire recorded double-digit kills in 22 matches this season, more than any other Gaucho. She put away a career-high 22 kills in Santa Barbara’s 3-2 defeat over Utah State on Oct. 10.

“She is always there to play, and she takes criticism and coaching very well,” Gregory said. “She always accepts responsibility for her play.”

While there is still room for improvement in her back-row game, both Blackshire and Gregory are confident that she will leave UCSB as an all-around player.

“She’s the kind of player every coach needs to have on her team,” Gregory said. “I expect that she’s going to lead us to another very successful year.”