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Volleyball has chance to be High Point for Plume

March 04, 2006|By DAN KAUFFMAN

Williamsport High School senior Ashley Plume long ago designed her future plans around wanting a career in interior design.

Little did Plume know that a new design would make itself available. One that would give the Wildcats' volleyball standout the opportunity to play at the NCAA Division I level.

Aided by a $10,000 academic scholarship, Plume decided to attend High Point University in North Carolina several months ago, choosing her path toward the career of her choice.

"There's no school in Maryland that offers interior design as a major," Plume said. "I had to look out of state. I really like High Point because it's small but not too small. I didn't really want to go to a big school. When I visited the campus (last) summer, the campus was beautiful and everyone was so nice."

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Plume thought her final volleyball match had been played - one in which Williamsport defeated Poolesville for its fourth consecutive Class 1A state title in November. However, with the encouragement of Cheryl Wilkes - who started the Springfield Middle School program that has served as a feeder program for Williamsport - and the decision of High Point head coach Chad Esposito, that thought became obsolete.

"I wasn't planning on playing volleyball because I didn't think I was good enough," Plume said. "But Cheryl Wilkes urged me to do some investigating and talk to the coach. I was down there three or four weeks ago, and the coach asked to see me and told me he saw talent in me and welcomed me to the team. I got really excited."

Plume, a defensive specialist, spent her freshman and sophomore seasons on the Wildcats' JV squad, watching the varsity win two state titles, and said that "inspired me to get better." She continued to improve as a member of the varsity team her last two seasons, earning a starting spot as a senior.

"I think her confidence really got stronger and she felt more comfortable with her ability to help the team on defense," Williamsport coach Emily Crabtree said. "She knew that was going to be her strong point and she worked really hard to be the best she could be. She's a tremendously hard worker. She was never a slacker, she always went 100 percent and never complained."

As her life's design moves her ever closer to her final days at Williamsport High School, Plume looks back fondly at her experiences.

"Coach Crabtree and Coach (Ann) Reynolds encouraged me and helped me a lot, and I couldn't ask for better teammates," Plume said. "It was enjoyable and an honor to play volleyball for Williamsport. It definitely gave me the courage and ability to play at college."

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