A long journey back to Jessup

Plummer starring for her fourth team in as many years
By: Ray Hacke Journal Sports Writer
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Patricia Plummer has had quite a college volleyball odyssey. She’s spent each of her four years of eligibility at a different school. She’s gone from local schools to the East Coast, from the NAIA to the junior-college level to NCAA Division I. In the middle of all that, she spent a season as an assistant coach at her old high school, Del Oro. Ironically, Plummer’s journey has taken her right back to where she started. Plummer is now a senior setter for William Jessup University in Rocklin — the same place she began playing college volleyball after graduating from Del Oro in 2005. She transferred to WJU after the Division I school she played for last season, Wagner College in Staten Island, N.Y., cut its volleyball program. Wagner waited until March to announce that it was axing volleyball along with its wrestling program due to budget constraints. That didn’t leave Plummer much time to find a new team for her final season of eligibility. “If they’d told us in November after the season that we were done, I’d have had time to talk to other schools, get my name out there and that sort of thing,” Plummer said. Most schools had already filled their spots with new recruits when Plummer contacted them. William Jessup, however, had an opening for a setter. “I’d already been there, done that,” Plummer said. “I wanted to go to a bigger school farther away from home. But it turned out that William Jessup was my only opportunity, so I decided to come back.” Plummer played for WJU during the school’s first year in Rocklin, but transferred to Sierra College after one season. “The volleyball team wasn’t very strong, and I didn’t want to spend my college career with a losing team,” she said. Plummer decided during her time at Sierra that she wanted to play NCAA Division I volleyball. To gain an extra season of eligibility — and thus make herself more attractive to Division I schools — she red-shirted during the 2007 season, working out with Sierra’s team. On the side, Plummer served as an assistant coach for Del Oro’s varsity team — whose roster included her younger sister, Marissa, now a sophomore middle blocker at the University of Portland. Plummer also sought out Division I schools through the Internet, e-mailing coaches her position, height, vertical leap and other pertinent details. A few coaches e-mailed her back, but it was Wagner that flew her out to New York to visit the school and ultimately offered her a scholarship. “My wife and I are extremely proud that she was able to do what she wanted to do,” said Plummer’s father, Tim. “She went on the Internet, found a school and made it all happen. She made her dream come true.” Now that she’s back at William Jessup, the school is having its best volleyball season yet. The Warriors are currently in third place in the NAIA’s California Pacific Conference (Cal-Pac) at 4-2 (10-7 overall). Plummer has played no small part in the Warriors’ recent success. Before last Friday’s match against Holy Names she was second among Cal-Pac setters in assists with 461 and tied for third in service aces with 23. “We needed a setter with experience and power,” WJU coach Terry Stafford said. “We needed a setter who could place the ball from the get-go, and since our first game, we’ve been executing. She’s been placing the ball very well for us.” Plummer isn’t done changing schools yet. She plans to transfer to Sacramento State after the season ends because WJU doesn’t offer a single-subject secondary education major. Eventually, Plummer hopes to become a high school teacher and volleyball coach. For now, however, she hopes to enjoy a return to WJU that she calls “definitely unexpected.” “I remember my first year here, and it’s been a complete 180,” she said. “It’s nice to finish my career where I started, making a difference for a college volleyball team.”