The Goldendale Sentinel - Headlines & History since 1879

By Jaryd Cline
Sports editor 

Goldendale's Sierra Plum signs on to set for College of New Rochelle

 

April 11, 2018

Contributed

Sierra Plum signs her letter of intent to play volleyball for the College of New Rochelle.

For a while after finishing up her high school volleyball career at Goldendale High School, senior Sierra Plum was undecided on whether she wanted to continue playing into college, or just attend school as a regular student.

However, after a few plane trips across the country and visits to the College of New Rochelle in New Rochelle, New York, Plum knew she was a perfect fit to continue playing collegiately with the Blue Angels.

Plum signed on to join the College of New Rochelle Blue Angels, a Division III school just north of the Big Apple, late last month and becomes the second Goldendale volleyball player in the last two years to continue playing collegiately.

"I'm just surprised. I would have never imagined myself moving across the country," Plum said. "But it's happening so I'm really excited."

She first received interest when Alyssa Kaufman, the school's head volleyball coach, reached out and sent her messages on ncsasports.org, a recruiting website that helps connect potential student athletes with potential college coaches.

"At first I was like 'Wow, New York, that's a long ways away,'" Plum said.

"(Kaufman) told me about her program and what her team is like ... and talking to her and emailing back and forth a few times, I was like 'Wow, I need to go visit. I love every single thing the coach is saying."

Plum went on her official visit to the school earlier this year where her future teammates and coaches immediately made her feel at home.

"I came up for my visit and bonded instantly with the girls and the coach," Plum said. "I've never felt so bonded to a group of girls so quickly."

She enjoyed the campus, the other volleyball girls, and just the atmosphere up there during her official visit enough so that she returned to spend spring break in New Rochelle.

"Just feeling at home, I knew it was the right place," Plum said.

She said the city kind of reminds her of Boise in that it's not too busy and crowded like downtown New York City. New Rochelle is about 15-20 miles northeast of Manhattan, Yankee Stadium, and all the other famous attractions in the Big Apple, and has a population of just under 80,000 people according to the 2016 census.

She was interested in attending a couple of colleges closer to home as just a student, but really wanted to branch out and try something different.

"I went and looked up Boise State and I've been to Central (Washington University), not for volleyball but just colleges to go to school at ... I know these places and it's not anything new," Plum said. "And when I came (to New Rochelle), I just felt at home instantly."

Her parents, Mike and Ginger, also were very supportive of any decision she wanted to make, and encouraged her move to New York. Plum said she hasn't had a chance to talk with her high school coach Jodi Bellamy since she signed, but not too long ago Bellamy was encouraging her to continue playing while she was still mulling the decision over.

In the end it was all about continuing to play the game she loves for a few more years.

"I cannot believe I wasn't going to (play)," Plum said. "This is what I should be doing."

She finds herself in a similar position with many of the other Blue Angels. With only three New Yorkers on last year's team, all the other girls had to make a similar transition to what Plum will make when she heads back over there later this year.

Four players on last year's team joined New Rochelle after playing high school ball in California and five more joined after previously living in Puerto Rico. That was something Plum asked all them about, learning about the team comradery and how they were all there to help pick each other up when needed.

"They said it was hard at times but they all had each other," Plum said. "That's a big thing. That really stood out to me."

Plum is excited, but also ready, to get back to work on the court and grow her game further than the all-state level she was playing last season for the Timberwolves. She joins a team that has enjoyed strong play from the setter position in recent years and may be looking for one to step in and contribute soon.

Jaryd Cline

Plum sets during Goldendale's first round matchup against Bellevue Christian during the state tournament last November in Yakima.

Setter and right side hitter Cristal Michelle Liciaga, who will be a junior this season, was named the Association of Division III Independents (AD3I) Player of the Year, while grad student Melanie Ann Lopez Soto was named the AD3I Setter of the Year.

New Rochelle assistant coach Sara Anastasi was a setter/defensive specialist during her playing days and works with the setters a lot during practices.

"I'm definitely going to improve because there's always room for improvement but I think I'm going to learn a lot which is exciting," Plum said.

The Blue Angels also have been strong in the three years Kaufman has been the head coach. The team finished 20-11 overall last year and a spot in the NCAA National Women's DIII Volleyball Championships. The year before, Kaufman took the team to the championships for the first time in school history, also the first time in over thirty years that any sports team at CNR had qualified for the NCAA Tournament.

 

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