Both Emma Plutnicki and Makayla Serrett played volleyball all four years at River Dell High School and played club volleyball for USANY. They have committed to play volleyball for Georgetown University. Emma is interested in majoring in a degree called Operations and Information Management, but is still in the process of exploring other majors within that topic. Makayla is registering undecided and has an open mind about several different subjects and opportunities.
On their club team they have had the opportunity to compete in tournaments against some of the best competition in the world in the following locations:
- Orlando, Florida
- Chicago, Illinois
- Puerto Rico
- Atlanta, GA (Southern Dream / Beast of the Southeast)
- Nashville, Tennessee
- Louisville, KY (Bluegrass / JV World Challenge)
- York, PA (Grand Prix)
- Pittsburgh, PA (Steel City Freeze)
- Pula, Croatia (Global Challenge)
- Myrtle Beach, SC (Myrtle Madness)
- Kansas City (Triple Crown)
- Finland (played with Finnish National Team)
- Croatia (Global Challenge vs nationally ranked teams of a variety of countries)
Few people in their lifetime have the opportunity to travel to so many places. Emma and Makayla not only had the chance to visit these countries and states, but they got to do so while playing the sport they love. Makayla put it best when she said, “Earning a scholarship to Georgetown and playing D1 volleyball would not have been possible without USANY or the support of my family.”
Makayla is a blocker. She shared that to become a great blocker people need, “proper footwork” and to be able to “press your hands over the plane of the net.” She also said that good players do not “guess where the ball is going to be set, but instead, just react to it.”
Emma Plutnicki is a setter. She shared that to become a great setter, a player must, “develop a strong mindset.” She explained, “Since you are controlling the offense and touching the ball on basically every possession, it’s important to be level-headed and adapt to what’s happening on the court. Of course, to become a great setter, you have to practice, practice, and practice. Specifically, it’s important to focus on footwork and contacting the ball the same every time.”
Georgetown is known as one of the best academic institutes in the United States. Emma was awarded Valedictorian of her senior class. When asked how she balanced schoolwork and volleyball she shared,
Considering I practice volleyball almost every night and travel almost every other weekend, balancing sports and schoolwork definitely wasn’t easy. For me, the key was definitely getting as much work done as possible in school. During any free time during classes, I would whip out other homework to get as much done as possible. During lunch, I would typically complete short assignments that could be done within 30 minutes. After school, I would finish whatever outstanding assignments I had to do. Many times I would receive loads of homework to do over weekends. Countless times I would be studying material on planes, trains, and buses. Being a student-athlete is tough, but even in the term student comes before athlete. It’s integral to set aside time to complete your studies so you can be successful on the court and in the classroom.
Emma’s description is a blueprint for players who want to succeed in the classroom. She proves that it is doable to be a top athlete and a top student.
Both Emma and Makayla have played basketball and volleyball together since they were young children. They fell in love with basketball when they played on the same town team (REGAL, which is River Edge’s town travel program) coached by Emma’s mother, LeAnn Wilcox Plutnicki. They also played AAU basketball together. Although basketball was their main sport going into high school, after freshman year they both decided to quit basketball to focus on volleyball. Emma explained, “I decided to give up basketball because my heart was in volleyball. I knew that in order to reach my full potential in volleyball, it had to be my sole focus, removing basketball from the picture. Even though it was tough, I knew that giving up basketball was the best decision for my future.”
On the other hand, Makayla’s experience was a little bit different. She explained, “At the time, my high school basketball coach practically made me choose between the two. But ultimately, it was too much to balance basketball, volleyball, school work, traveling, etc. and I probably would have needed to narrow it down at some point. I just liked volleyball more and was naturally better at it so it wasn’t that tough of a choice.”
Emma and Makayla will go down in history as two of the few people to grow up playing sports together for the same town, the same high school, and now the same college.
Awards Emma Plutnicki Won: 1st team All-state, grade 12, 1st team All-county, grades 11-12, Nominee for volleyball player of the year by NorthJersey.com, grade 12, Member of River Dell volleyball team that won both a county and state title, and MVP of Clarkstown Volleyball Tournament, grade 12.
Awards Makayla Serrett Won: Member of River Dell volleyball team that won both a county and state title, 2nd team All-County, grade 11, MVP of the 2017-2018 Season USANY, MVP of Global Challenge Tournament in Croatia