Gavilan’s Samantha Nydam spikes the ball as Ryan Asp looks to return during practice at Morgan Hill Bible Church Feb. 10.
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GILROY—Gavilan College’s Samantha Nydam expected to be suiting up for the Rams for her sophomore season this fall. But when opportunity knocks, you answer.
The freshman had a breakout rookie with Gavilan which put the four-year schools on notice. Nydam led the Rams in kills with 273 in addition to 137 assists, 138 digs and 24 blocks through 90 sets to earn First Team All-Coast Conference South honors.
When San Jose State University caught wind of her, they made her an offer she couldn’t refuse: a scholarship to play Division I indoor and sand volleyball in the fall with the Spartans. And best of all, Nydam said, the university is just a short trip north for her family to come and watch her games.
“When the opportunity came up, I jumped at it because it was my No.1 school that I wanted to go to,” Nydam, who signed her letter of intent with SJSU May 14 said. “It just seemed like a good fit.”
The signing day was bittersweet for Gavilan coach Kevin Kramer. While he was happy to see Nydam’s dream come true, he also knows the hole she’ll leave on the team next season. He said the Rams had big expectations for what she could do in at their level next year, but knows she’ll continue to shake things up for the Spartans.
“We kind of felt that she would’ve been one of the top players in Northern California next year offensively…but that’s the market we’re in,” Kramer said. “We’re in this job to move people on to where they’ll graduate from and she had an opportunity. We know this all part of it.”
Nydam is joining an indoor Spartans team that went 4-27 overall last season and notched just one win in conference play. The sand team’s luck was much the same, going winless in its second season as a program with an 0-14 record.
The Spartans will look to the outside hitter to energize their offense on both teams. While Nydam only has one season of sand under her belt, she said she enjoyed learning the game this year with the Rams, noting that playing in the sand helped strengthen her indoor game, too.
That being said, Nydam is no stranger to the indoor game. She’s bringing the Spartans a wealth of experience on the hardwood having played for Ann Sobrato High School as well as a high caliber club team.
But it’s what Nydam learned with Gavilan, she said, that has best prepared her for playing with San Jose State.
“I learned a lot about teamwork and about mental toughness. I think it really helped me with the transition from just high school volleyball to college volleyball,” Nydam said. “Without it, I wouldn’t be so mentally tough and so prepared to take on another level.”
Nydam said she’s most looking forward to playing with her new teammates and under the Spartans coaches—who have welcomed her with open arms. That doesn’t come as a surprise to Kramer, who said she Nydam was an excellent teammate and a breath of fresh air for his team this year.
“(She was always) going above and beyond,” Kramer said. “She’s just one of those kids that you just want in your program and that’s probably one of the hardest things about losing her…Certain ones certainly bring out the best of you as a coach.”

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