Athlete of the week: Plunkett, Flames firing past TCAL foes

Lodi's Victor Plunkett (7) gets ready to fire the ball in front of his Flame teammates in Wednesday's Tri-City Athletic League boys water polo game against Lincoln at Tokay's swimming pool.

Victor Plunkett set out a goal that has already been accomplished this season.

The Lodi High boys water polo player, a junior who has started since his freshman year, was successful in another goal against Tokay in their Tri-City Athletic League meeting at Tokay’s swimming pool on Oct. 3. Plunkett scored 10 goals in the Flames’ 19-10 win over the Tigers.

“It felt good,” said Plunkett of scoring the goals against Tokay. “We have seen Tokay around at tournaments. We looked at it as a must-win game. We had to come out strong. Luckily for me and my team, we came out strong and put them away early. That was the goal of that game. The Lodi-Tokay rivalry brings a little bit more out of you.”

Plunkett scored four goals in the first period of the game that wasn’t even close as the final score could indicate. Lodi (4-2 in the TCAL, 13-5) led 10-3 at halftime and 16-5 after three periods over Tokay, which has only won league game this season.

In another TCAL game against Tracy, also at Tokay’s pool, on Oct. 1, Plunkett had six goals. That helped Lodi post a 21-3 win over the Bulldogs.

Plunkett feels that this year’s Lodi squad is seeing the net better than last season.

“Last year, we found good shots but we just couldn’t finish; we couldn’t put into the back of the net,” Plunkett said. “This year, we’ve been working on finishing. To this point, we have finished better. The 6-on-5, trying to put the ball in the back of the net, trying to find the right reads. Same thing with pressure passing. You want to become a good passing team; move the ball quickly so we can find the offensive opportunity that we have.”

if Plunkett had a choice of shooting the ball, it would rather be at the center of the pool; shooting right from the middle in which the Flames do quite common in their offense. But he’s been very productive shooting from the outside and past the 5-meter mark.

“That is a common thing with what we do,” Plunkett said. “We are constantly going in, posting up and getting the shots. My strengths come from the hole-set. Water polo is a lot about swimming. I think having teammates that can spread around, pass with you, pass you the ball. It all helps to make scoring goals a lot easier.”

According to Lodi coach Dan Christy, Plunkett has had five games this season that he’s scored 10 goals.

Entering this season, Plunkett wanted to score at least 100 goals. After Wednesday’s game against Lincoln in which Lodi beat the Trojans 14-12, he has 116.

“My goal this season was to break 100,” Plunkett said.

Practices, at the beginning of the season, are different for Plunkett and the Flames. During the dead period that started toward the end of July into mid-August, the Flames did lot of swimming in the school’s pool.

Now at this point in the season, there’s still some laps swim. But Christy and the players start putting their game plan together their offensive and defensive schemes against their next opponent.

“We work on passing, shooting,” Plunkett said. “More swim sets. We get that knocked out early, then we work on the technical part of water polo at the end.”

Plunkett was ready to go for this season before the start of the season. That is because he played on the American River Water Polo Club’s 16-and-under team, year-round. The club is based out of Sacramento.

“We go to tournaments over the summer,” Plunkett said. “After the high school season, I do take a two week break, and will get back into full-on conditioning year-round until the high school season goes back up again.”

Contact Mike Bush at mikeb@lodinews.com. Follow on Twitter: @MBushLodiSports.

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