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Plummer comes of age with Pilots

Del Oro grad a team leader on and off the court at Portland
By: Ray Hacke Journal Correspondent
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Marissa Plummer is what some folks call a “people person.” That’s really the best way to describe the Del Oro High graduate. It’s why she chose to major in nursing at the University of Portland, where she’s currently a junior. It’s also a big reason why her coaches and teammates on the Pilot women’s volleyball team selected her as team captain earlier this year. “I’m pretty close with pretty much all the girls on the team,” Plummer said. “I’m also pretty comfortable with all of the coaches, and not all of the girls are. It’s good to be able to help all the girls that way.” “She’s a connector,” Portland coach Joe Houck said. “She’s a caretaker, which will serve her well in her chosen profession as a nurse. She’s one of those people who can connect people in a group and help them find common ground.” In a blog posted on the Pilots’ website, freshman outside hitter Autumn Wedan described the roles different girls play on the team. Wedan called Plummer “the mother.” “Half the girls on the team call me ‘Mom,’” Plummer said. “I’m the one making sure everyone has their stuff and making sure they’re not forgetting things. I’m also the one the girls come to if they need to sit and talk through some things.” Plummer’s first two years in the Pilots’ program have prepared her well for the role, according to Houck. “One of the coolest things for me as a coach has been to watch her mature,” the coach said. “Now she’s helping develop that in her teammates. She’s helping them get down that road a lot quicker.” Plummer has matured physically as well — and that’s shown up in her play on the court, Houck said. The middle blocker spent the summer working with Portland’s strength and conditioning staff and no longer deals with back pain and other injuries that have plagued her in past years. “She’s gone from girl to woman,” Houck said. “Her presence on the court, her speed, her strength, and her ability to be on the court through a five-game match have all taken a significant jump this year.” So have Plummer’s stats — particularly in the kill department. After averaging less than two kills per set as a freshman and sophomore, she’s averaging 2.38 per set this season. “Last year I was not as close with my setter as I am this year,” Plummer said. “This year she’s much more comfortable setting for me. “The other thing is that at the beginning of the year our outside hitters were doing really well, and other teams’ blockers were doubling up on them. That opened things up in the middle for me, and now other teams are doubling up on me and opening things up for them.” Plummer recorded a career-high 22 kills in Portland’s lone West Coast Conference victory thus far, a five-set win over the University of San Francisco on Oct. 9. “People kept getting me the ball, and I figured as long as it’s working, I’ll keep doing it until they stop it,” said Plummer, who has been in the Pilots’ kill leader in conference play with 56 and is also the team’s overall leader in blocks with 63. “They never really stopped it. It was a lot of fun.” Despite the individual success she’s had at Portland, Plummer has been unable to lead the Pilots to postseason play. Houck believes that will change once his younger players have more experience. “Against the best teams in our conference, she’s been our best player,” Houck said. “She’s an elite player in this conference. I absolutely feel that way. “With the changes we’ve seen in her the last two years and this year, next year, with a better and more experienced team around her, what she’s capable of will be off the charts.”