Gabby O’Connell: Freshman phenom soon to be unstoppable

Ronnie Rodgers

If you know anything about UNF volleyball, then you know the name Gabby O’Connell. The soft-spoken freshman is anything but that when she dominates the court.

O’Connell is an all-around player, with marks all over the stat sheet. The outside hitter soars and scores night after night and has been instrumental in many of the Ospreys’ big wins.

The five-time ASUN Freshman of the Week has garnered 11 double-doubles this season alone. O’Connell has earned the ASUN Freshman of the Week accolade more times than any other ASUN player.

The Gainesville native chose UNF for its atmosphere and people.

“It’s in a great location, and this is somewhere that I saw myself for the next four years as my home,” said O’Connell.  “I didn’t really know what to expect, but my team is amazing we’re doing pretty good.”

Head Coach Steve Loeswick spoke on O’Connell’s skill.

“Gabby is amazing, we’re very fortunate to have her be a part of our program,” he said.

Copy of DSC_0117The volleyball team has been ridden with injuries all season, with four starters out. O’Connell took the opportunity to start her legacy with the Ospreys.

“Nothing was guaranteed to me, so I came into preseason and worked really hard and being able to have the opportunity to play as a freshman is great,” O’Connell said.

Her hard work has definitely paid off — she starts and basically plays the whole game. Whether she is serving balls like a missile, or digging ball in the backcourt, her presence is definitely a game changer.

“It feels really good coming into a team, and being able to make an impact is really satisfying.” said O’Connell.

O’Connell is outshining many players that have many more years experience than the nursing major who recently turned 18.

The six footer leads the team in kills, and is the only UNF player to have over 300 kills this season. Even though she prefers to play at the net, her back row presence is exceptional.

In her debut season, she’s scored 405 points. O’Connell has 347 kills, dug 275 balls and has 51 total blocks this season.

“I really try to be coachable and always try to get better. Maybe I’m not doing well in one aspect of the game, but hopefully I can make an impact somewhere else,”O’Connell said.

When she’s not on the court O’Connell can be found watching Grey’s Anatomy on Netflix. But when it’s game time she listens to Beyoncé to get her pumped up.

The freshman spoke on her mindset going into her first postseason play.

“Just leave it all on the court, [I’m] playing with no regrets,”O’Connell said.

Loeswick sees O’Connell as being a wonderful person off the hardwood.  

“She is a better person than she is a player. She a pleasure to be around. We’re excited for what’s she’s going to do in the future,” said Loeswick.

As a freshman she is phenomenal. By her senior season the feisty player will be unstoppable.

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