When it came down to it — and truly it did — no one was better than Kathryn Plummer, who saved her best for last.
The Stanford senior outside hitter is the 2019 VolleyballMag.com national player of the year and tops our All-American teams. She was the choice of our panel of coaches and experts, edging out Baylor junior outside hitter Yossiana Pressley, who had a spectacular season herself.
Pressley’s coach, Baylor’s Ryan McGuyre, was a unanimous choice for national coach of the year.
Plummer missed 10 midseason matches for Stanford, which won its third national championship in four years. And like her team, Plummer went back-to-back as the VBM POY. Her stats from the six NCAA Tournament matches alone were staggering as Plummer averaged 6.75 kills, hit .416, and averaged 1.1 blocks and 2.6 digs.
“It’s an honor,” Plummer said Tuesday. “I’ve worked really hard and I’m really proud to get recognition. Not that I haven’t had recognition before, but this senior year was really satisfying to just be able to go out and have fun and play volleyball and not worry about everything that was on my shoulders.
“I’m very, very fortunate to have gone to Stanford, graduated from there and won another national championship. This whole last year was really fun.”
For the season, even with missing all those matches, “KP” still led Stanford with 444 kills, more than 100 more than her closest teammate. Plummer, the 6-foot-6 product of Aliso Viejo, California, averaged 5.22 kills per set, hit .330 for the season, had 24 service aces, averaged 1.92 digs and had 47 blocks, five in the national semifinals and three more in the national-championship match victory over Wisconsin this past Saturday night.
“I don’t know that I’ve seen a player since Ogonna Nnamani (who had 61 kills in two final-four matches for Stanford when it won the 2004 title), who has dominated a tournament the way that she did this year,” Stanford coach Kevin Hambly said.
“And she started out playing that way until her injury. She was hitting above .340 and was playing at a whole different level. It was a bummer that the injury sidetracked that, but she was playing at a different level than any player that I’d seen in a long, long time.”
In that semifinal win over Baylor, Plummer had 26 kills, hit .353, and had nine digs and an ace. In the title match, she had 22 more kills, hit .459 and had an ace 10 digs.
“My family and my boyfriend, they were like, ‘I’ve never seen you look so focused.’ And I told them that I just wanted to do all that I can to make sure that we win. And I had a lot of opportunities to score and I wanted to take full advantage of them.
“It worked out. Definitely.”
Plummer, because she missed those matches, was ineligible to make the Pac-12 all-conference team or be honored by the AVCA — and she was the AVCA player of the year the past two years. What’s more, the AVCA voting is completed before play begins at the NCAA Division I Volleyball Championship. Plummer has signed with an agent and expects to be playing professionally in Europe next month.
McGuyre took Baylor to new heights as the Bears tied perennial winner Texas for the Big 12 title and went into the NCAA Tournament as the No. 1 seed. The fifth-year coach, who was also the AVCA coach of the year, guided Baylor to a 29-2 finish, losing only to Texas and Wisconsin, as the Bears appeared in the NCAA final four for the first time.
Choosing these All-American teams gets harder every year because both the talent and competition levels continue to rise in NCAA Division I women’s volleyball.
Like last year — when we did it for the first time — we’ve got a fourth team, and easily could have had a fifth.
2019 VolleyballMag.com All-Americans First Team Kara Bajema, Sr., OH, Washington Dani Drews, Jr., OH, Utah Leah Edmond, Sr., OH, Kentucky
Jenna Gray, Sr., S, Stanford
Morgan Hentz, Sr., L, Stanford
Sydney Hilley, Jr., S, Wisconsin
Kaitlyn Hord, So., MB, Penn State
Khalia Lanier, Sr., OH, USC
Regan Pittman, Jr., MB, Minnesota
Kathryn Plummer, Sr., OH, Stanford
Yossiana Pressley, Jr., OH, Baylor
Dana Rettke, Jr., MB, Wisconsin
Shelly Stafford, Sr., MB, Baylor Jordan Thompson, Sr., OH, Cincinnati
Brionne Butler, So., MB, Texas
Logan Eggleston, So., OH, Texas
Thayer Hall, So., OH, Florida
Hollann Hans, Sr., OH, TexasA&M
Nicole Lennon, Jr., OH, Rice
Madison Lilley, Jr., S, Kentucky
Hannah Lockin, Jr., S, Baylor
Kayla Lund, Jr., OH, Pitt
Mac May, Jr., OH, UCLA
Lindsey Ruddins, Sr., OH, UC Santa Barbara
Stephanie Samedy, Jr., OPP, Minnesota
Lauren Stivrins, Jr., MB, Nebraska
Kendall White, Sr., L, Penn State Micaya White, Sr., OH, Texas
Efrosini Alexakou, So., OH, St. John’s
Allie Barber, Sr., OH, Marquette
Gabby Blossom, So., S, Penn State
Grace Cleveland, So., OH, Purdue
Kylie Deberg, Jr., OH, Missouri
Maia Dvoracek, Jr., OH, Cal Poly
Madeleine Gates, Grad., MB, Stanford
Molly Haggerty, Jr., OH, Wisconsin
Alexis Hart, Sr., OH, Minnesota
Mary Lake, Sr., L, BYU McKenna Miller, Sr., OH, BYU
Katie Oleksak, Sr., S, Colorado State
Polina Shemanova, So., OH, Syracuse
Lexi Sun, Jr., OH, Nebraska