Marjama hopes to help Grizzlies make return trip to section finals
Granite Bay’s head volleyball coach Tricia Plummer is in familiar territory.
Since she took over the girls program in 2013, the Grizzlies have reached the second round of the playoffs three times and brought home section titles twice (2013 and 2015).
That incredible 45-0 team in 2013 may have been her best team overall, but her best coaching performance came last year, when her Grizzlies upset heavy favorite Rocklin in the championship in straight sets.
This year, she’s going to have to work her magic again.
The Grizzlies don’t have the big right arm of Emily DeMure to rely on, after the Penn State commit graduated last spring. But they do have a group of experienced and scrappy players that could surprise some teams this postseason. That run began Tuesday as Granite Bay swept No. 11 seed Inderkum, 3-0 (25-15, 25-23 & 25-23) and earned a spot in the Division II bracket quarterfinals.
“It feels good to get the first round over with,” Plummer admitted. “We know we have a harder route than we’ve had before, so getting them focused and realizing that it’s not going to be easy, that’s the next step.”
Helping the Grizzlies rack up the wins this postseason is junior transfer Abby Marjama.
You may remember the name — both Jake and Mike Marjama, her older brothers, were standout baseball players at Granite Bay and Mike has gone on to catch at the minor and major league levels.
Abby originally grew up in the Granite Bay area, but went with her father to Rocklin High, where he taught, for the first two years of her prep career. She made the move back home prior to the start of the school year and sat out the allotted 30 days as sanctioned by the section.
“It’s been really exciting for me, even though I was nervous coming into this year,” Marjama admitted. “Last year, I was the underclassmen on the (Rocklin) team, but this year, people are looking to me to lead the way. But all of the girls have been great and it’s been a blast.”
The addition of Majama allowed Plummer to move senior Amanda Prather back to setter, her natural position, from outside hitter, where the Grizzlies were struggling. The swap has paid off with five straight wins and victories in 12 of the team’s last 13 games. Her transfer also brought in an experienced leader for the younger girls to watch and learn.
“To have somebody with that experience is key, because we were young on the pins and she’s filled in nicely there,” Plummer confessed. “She just has a great attitude and has good energy — the girls tend to feed off that and I know they really look up to her.”
Marjama posted an eye-popping 23 kills Tuesday night in the team’s opening playoff win and registered a solid 60.5 kill percentage. But it’s been her defensive efforts that she has been most proud of this year.
“Last year, I didn’t get to play all the way around, so that was a big goal of mine in the offseason,” Marjama explained. “I’ve been able to do that pretty well this year, plus I’ve tried to be more powerful to the ball and really slam some balls down.”
The Grizzlies will need a few more standout performances from Marjama if they hope to make a return trip to the section finals, but you can count on Plummer to help her deliver. The team takes the floor again tonight, at No. 3 seeded Elk Grove, in search of an upset and a trip to the semifinals.