Plummer is Portland’s anchor

Del Oro grad guiding Pilots volleyball team in the right direction
By: Ray Hacke Journal Sports Writer
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Coaches in high school and college athletics often speak of skills and lessons learned on the field being applicable to life after sports. In Marissa Plummer’s case, it’s no mere platitude. Now a sophomore at the University of Portland, the Del Oro High graduate is in her second year as a starting middle blocker for the Pilots’ volleyball team. She’s also studying to be a nurse. Pilots coach Joe Houck says Plummer has already developed into a leader for his young squad, and Plummer’s leadership role has helped her develop interpersonal skills that will certainly prove beneficial in a nursing career. “I’m really learning how to deal with people with different personality types — there’s so many on our team alone,” Plummer said. “I’m also learning how to take information from a coach or a co-worker and translate it into the work I’m doing.” On top of that, Houck said, Plummer is learning “emotional control,” which should come in handy both in high-pressure emergency situations and when helping patients or loved ones deal with difficult news. “In an increased-energy situation, if you can channel the energy the right direction, it can prove advantageous to the situation,” Houck said. “That education is happening here (on the volleyball court).” Plummer has a role model she can look to in her coach’s wife. Ann Houck is a former Portland volleyball player who is now in the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame and is currently working as a nurse. “We’ve talked a couple of times,” Plummer said. “I really look up to her and what she’s doing.” Selected to the West Coast Conference’s All-Freshman Team last fall, Plummer has started all 16 of the Pilots’ matches this season. She is among the team’s leaders in several categories, including kills (93), attacking percentage (.170) and blocks (44). “The way I see the court has improved a lot,” she said. “I see a lot of things better. I can also place the ball better than I did last year.” Portland (4-12, 0-1 WCC) has struggled much of this season, but Houck doesn’t expect that situation to be permanent with the 6-foot-2 Plummer patrolling the net. “I knew she had athleticism and size, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the intangibles she’s brought with her,” the coach said. “She’s already had a tremendous impact on our program, and she’ll do some amazing things here before she’s done.” Ray Hacke can be reached at