MISSOULA — Abby Anderson has been a mainstay on the court for the Montana Lady Griz women's basketball team over the last four years.
The senior is once again having an impactful year at Montana led by her defense, as she leads the Big Sky Conference in blocked shots.
But the road was far from easy to get to this point. After seeing limited minutes in 2018-19, Anderson became a full-fledged starter as a redshirt sophomore in the 2019-20 season, and she's started every game she's played in since.
To hear her describe it, it was all about finding her comfort level after making the move to Missoula from her home state of Oregon.
"I just took it as a huge opportunity," Anderson said. "I didn't come into college basketball with huge confidence and I started realizing that playing in Dahlberg it's fun. This is fun, don't be scared anymore, this is a great opportunity."
And once she did, she thrived, and Anderson blossomed into an All-Big Sky selection last season as a junior.
Anderson has always been a double-double threat any night with her scoring and rebounding abilities, but it's her defense that has gone to another level this year. With 63 blocks on the year, Anderson leads the league in that category with 20 more blocked shots than the next closest player in the Big Sky.
"I was just very intimidated and I just thought all of the other girls were so good and I was like how I am I going to get there someday and I think being under the wing of (former Lady Griz players) Jace Henderson and Emma Stockholm the first couple of years, and my redshirt year was great for me," Anderson explained. "I got to sit on the bench and watch those girls go to work in the low post and I learned a lot."
"She has the ability because of her length and athleticism to be special on defense," Lady Griz coach Brian Holsinger added. "For us she's the anchor. Everything is in the middle. That person is really important. She's fantastic. She's really grown up. She's turned into a really good leader. She's been awesome with the girls and really selfless. She's really given a lot to this team."
Anderson's senior year now winds to a close as the Lady Griz wrap up the regular season on Friday and head into the conference tournament next week in Boise, Idaho. This season, she's averaging 10 points, 6.1 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game. In her career, Anderson has racked up 207 blocks, 487 rebounds and 874 points in her career at UM.
"It's been a crazy ride that's for sure," Anderson said. "But with the different coaches and different teammates, I met so many amazing people. I'll thank Shannon Schweyen for giving me the chance to come here and Mike Petrino. He was an awesome coach and I'm so grateful for my time with both of them and my past teammates, I just love them all so much and I wouldn't change it. It's been awesome."
And through all of the changes of the Lady Griz program, it's been a career of growth for Anderson, and one, she's proud of.
"I'm happy that I grew up in a lot of ways on the basketball court, off the court," Anderson said. "I just did a lot of growing and gained a lot of confidence just I don't know I really soaked in the whole experience and I have no regrets because of that.
"I've always loved being a Lady Griz. I love Missoula, I love the culture. I love being able to graduate and thinking I'll be a Lady Griz alum with all the rest of them. It's a really great opportunity to go through and I never, ever once wanted to give that up."