After Arizona volleyball hired Matt Dyck as its new assistant coach in July 2020, associate head coach Charita Stubbs said that they had received few applications from female coaches for the position and the ones they did receive didn’t have the qualifications they needed. This time, the Wildcats got their woman.
The program announced on Thursday that head coach Dave Rubio had hired former Pac-12 Setter of the Year and AVCA All-American Lauren Plum as his new assistant coach. Plum will replace Dyck, who returned to the world of club volleyball as the director of Zona Volleyball Club after the 2021 season.
Plum comes to Arizona from Villanova, where she was an assistant from 2020-22. It is an interesting hire for the Pac-12 Wildcats because of Plum’s experience training setters. Not only did she handle the setters at Villanova, but she has been working with setters at East Coast Power VBC and Coast VBC. Historically, Rubio has been heavily involved with the setters at Arizona while Dyck was in charge of the pins during his time on the staff.
In the press release, Rubio indicated that her ability to develop setters was precisely why he selected Plum.
“Lauren comes with a resume that immediately commands respect,” Rubio stated in the release. “She has experienced every level of volleyball during her athletic career and there is no reason that will not continue here at Arizona. She has set exceptionally high standards for herself which fit perfectly with the direction we want our program to go. She will have an opportunity to make an immediate impact with the three setters in our program.”
As Rubio referenced, the Wildcats will have three setters next season: rising junior Emery Herman, sophomore-to-be Ava Tortorello, and incoming freshman Ana Heath. Both Herman and Heath come from backgrounds running 6-2 systems where they focused as much on hitting as setting, so another experienced setting voice in their ears can only help their development.
The addition of another coach who focuses on setting could be an advantage for an Arizona team that has incredible talent on the pins in Sofia Maldonado Diaz, Jaelyn Hodge, Puk Stubbe, and Dilara Gedikoglu. Developing the talent at the setter position is bound to help the development of the pins, as well.
There are few young coaches who bring the kind of clout at setting as Plum. She starred at Oregon as a setter from 2010-2014. She helped lead the Ducks to the national championship game in 2012 where they fell to Texas.
For players who want to continue on professionally, she has recent experience to relay to them. Plum played overseas from 2014 until 2020, then went directly into coaching.
The cultural fit is also good for Plum, who gets to move back to the part of the country where she’s from. She is a native of Poway, Calif., which lies about 23 miles outside San Diego.