Often times when thinking of the unsung hero of an athletic team, the last person typically thought of is the quarterback — they become synonymous with “the face of the franchise” and tend to get a majority of the credit and blame for a team’s performance.
However, this is not the case for the Oregon volleyball team or their “quarterback,” setter Lauren Plum.
Just like Oregon football, Jim Moore and the Ducks run a fast paced, high-octane offense that leaves opposing defenses on their heels when run effectively and the person who is in charge of making sure it all runs smoothly is Plum.
Like Marcus Mariota, her job is synonymous with quick decision-making to put her hitters in the best position possible to be succeed.
Plum, a junior from Poway, Calif., has excelled in her time at Oregon but her accolades often times go under the radar. Still, that doesn’t bother her.
“I just want to win,” Plum said. “I enjoy winning. I enjoy when my teammates do well because that makes things easier on me.”
Lauren was instrumental in the success of the Ducks regular season and her play in the postseason has not dipped or disappointed in the least.
In the Elite Eight showdown with Nebraska, essentially a home game for the Cornhuskers, Plum rose to the occasion and netted 52 assists in the win. The match previous against BYU, Plum exploded for 68 assists by herself, more than 21 more than the Cougars gained as a team.
As Plum goes, so does the Duck offense. It is easy to get enthralled by the ease at which Alaina Bergsma attacks the net or the power that Liz Brenner puts on each kill, but it is important to remember that if the ball is not properly put in the right position, the hitters cannot succeed.
Since her tenure in Eugene began, head coach Jim Moore has seen Plum grow from simply an athletic setter to an incredibly intelligent one who can read the tone of a game and make the proper calls.
“She’s now really learning to take that athleticism and make herself a great setter rather than an athletic setter,” Moore said.
When the Ducks take on the Penn State Nittany Lions Thursday night, much will be riding on Plum.
If Oregon has any chance at playing in their first NCAA championship in program history, they need her to continue her impressive tournament and continue putting her teammates in the best position to succeed.