Kathryn Plummer won three NCAA national championships in her career at Stanford. Every season, 64 teams make the tournament — and she and her teammates went three for four. She also was National Player of the Year two years in a row, and if it weren't for an injury her senior season, she could've been in contention for the award again.
When you think of Kathryn Plummer, you think of all this.
What made her so good? A lot of things. After watching nine straight minutes of Plummer terminating volleyballs, sometimes all the announcer could say was, "Wow."
Kerri Walsh Jennings, a volleyball legend, Olympian, and Stanford alumni, spoke to Plummer's abilities at the 2019 NCAA DI women's volleyball championship.
"She is just a special athlete. She is there to compete, you can see the focus in her eyes. I just really appreciate her game," Walsh Jennings said. "She's a very tall girl, she takes up a lot of space and she takes it up with grace. She leans on her teammates and she makes them better."
So let's break down just a few plays from Plummer's immaculate career, and a few of the things that make her just so good.
The kill that won the national championship in Plummer's freshman season
Pure power. That is what you'll see when watching Plummer's winning kill in the 2016 volleyball national championship. This play is a prime example of one of the MANY things Plummer is capable of that makes her an exceptional talent. Although Plummer is usually pretty talented at getting around the block, this time she didn't need to. Plummer is too powerful for the block, and the national championship match is over just like that.
Plummer was a powerhouse player from the very beginning of her Stanford career, not just as an upperclassman leader. She won National Freshman of the Year, and you can see just how much the team depended on her to rack up points for their team, setting to her again and again in the final stretch of the match. Plummer finished her freshman season with 431 kills and 3.34 kills per set.
Let's take a look at a back-court attack again, and add one more element to Plummer's game: Angles
Plummer's sophomore season is the only one where she didn't finish the year holding the championship trophy above her head. But it was still a year where she dominated. The kill at the 2:34 mark of the video above shows something that sets Plummer apart from the rest. Not only is she attacking from the back-court, but she sees angles that no one else envisions on the court. With little time and in high-pressure moments, she is still able to recognize where there is space on the court, and puts the ball right where she wants it. Again, it doesn't matter for Plummer, because she can hit at every single angle.
The kills that sent Stanford to Minneapolis in 2018 to compete for another title
Here, watch Plummer take over this match kill by kill from 4:31 to 5:04 of the above video. These kills were absolutely critical. Stanford lost the first set and trailed in the second until Plummer had something to say about it. This match stood between the Cardinal making it to Minneapolis and eventually winning the national championship in her junior season. Down 20-17 in the second, Plummer shows off another one of those things that makes her SO good. Her ability to hit from either pin, or anywhere along the net. She can play opposite or outside.
The Cardinal won the second set, and then Plummer picked right back up in the third with the same heat. Then at match point, where do you go? Plummer. On this kill, she not only hits cross-court, but she puts it down, and with power. Another critical moment in career, sending Plummer and her teammates on their way to what ended in another national title.
The kills that led to Plummer's third national title in 2019
Let's move on to 2019. Plummer had been out for a good portion of the second half of the season due to an injury, and was back and better than ever for the postseason. With Plummer in the rotation, Stanford again became a major contender for the trophy.
They found themselves in the national championship match taking on Wisconsin, and Plummer again pulled off kills that no one else in the country could do. Watch these back-to-back kills at 8:24 of the video above. Plummer turns defense into kills. Her teammates are just trying to get that ball back into play, and Plummer drills it down the line. All in all, Plummer won her third title, putting the cherry on top of an unbelievable career.
Here is a few other things that set Plummer a part, displayed time and time again in her career.
She is able to hit over the top of the block. At 6-foot-6, she can easily get high contact on the ball and rocket it well over the well-positioned block. She can take out of system balls, and sink them. It doesn't matter what the scenario, Plummer can annihilate the ball. She makes her teammates better. Jenna Gray told NCAA.com in 2019 that having Plummer back in the lineup after an injury was not only great to have her No.1 option back, but also because it created more opportunities for their other hitters. She is so dangerous when attacking from the back row. It quite honestly does not matter where Plummer is in the rotation, because she is just as dangerous from the back row as she is at the net. And lastly, as Walsh Jennings said it, she takes up space with grace. Plummer is always in the right spot, and will always be a legend in the name of college volleyball.