As a junior, Andie Plunkett played an important supportive role for a Johansen High girls water polo team that had several seniors.
Fast forward to a year later, and Plunkett found herself in a different position: in the spotlight.
"I think it put more pressure on me," Plunkett said. "It helped me this season."
As the most experienced player for the Vikings, Plunkett was also thrust into a new role: hole-set. There, she took on far larger players and led the Vikings in scoring en route to sharing the Modesto Metro Conference championship and sharing MMC MVP honors. For her efforts, Plunkett has been named The Bee's 2008 Girls Water Polo Player of the Year.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Merced Sun-Star
"I usually don't play hole-set," said Plunkett.
In water polo, the hole-set is similar to the center position in basketball. Her job was to leverage herself as close to the net as possible while opponents try to push her out.
"You try to make yourself as big as possible," Plunkett said. "I couldn't turn too many players around down there, so I had to use my speed."
Plunkett was unsure how the Vikings would do -- until their annual tournament at Newberg, Ore.
"That's a pretty strong tournament, and we made it to the finals," Plunkett said. "It gave our whole team confidence. We knew we were going to be competitive."
The Vikings lost their first MMC game against Modesto, then won the rematch to share the title. Johansen beat Golden Valley in the first round of the playoffs before losing to Lincoln of Stockton.
Plunkett grew up in the water. The sister of 2006 Bee player of the year Ryley Plunkett (now playing for the University of Michigan), Andie Plunkett started swimming at age 6. She started playing water polo for Modesto-Stanislaus at 9.
"We had some great teams back then," Andie Plunkett said. "Some real all-star teams."
Andie Plunkett started water polo in a supportive role that she stayed with until this year.
But being in the spotlight suited her just fine.
Bee staff writer Will DeBoard can be reached at email@example.com or 578-2300.