Emma Faulk and Meghan Murphy are both 6-foot-4, easily making them the tallest members of the College of Charleston volleyball team.
Their height usually leaves them towering over other women in Colonial Athletic Association matches. But that’ll change this weekend when Stanford senior Kathryn Plummer, the best player in the nation, comes to Charleston.
“She's a great player and has a lot of height,” Murphy said. "So we just need to stay composed and play our game."
Stanford and the College of Charleston kick off their seasons against each other Friday (7 p.m.) at TD Arena in the College of Charleston Classic. The two-day tournament also features Michigan State and Duke.
Plummer stands 6-6 with skills and talent even more intimidating than her presence. Last year she led Stanford to its second national title in three years, prompting collegiate polls to rank the team No. 1 heading into this season.
In addition, Plummer is the reigning back-to-back Player of the Year for the Pac 12 conference and ESPNW, and has represented the U.S. in the Olympics.
In short, she's the "Zion Williamson of college volleyball," said ESPN college basketball analyst and Charleston resident Debbie Antonelli.
Jason Kepner, Charleston's head volleyball coach, agrees.
“She's a great player on a great team,” said Kepner. "Hosting a tournament that includes Stanford and other great teams is huge for Charleston, so we're excited about having such great talent in the area."
Kepner said his team is welcoming the challenge. They'll lean on players like senior star Lauren Freed, who said playing the No. 1 team and player in the nation will be a good litmus test to see where the Cougars are at the start of the season.
“They're going to hit the ball hard and get some good shots,” said Freed, who is also no stranger to accolades. "For us, we just have to stay within ourselves and remember that every score counts the same."
The Ohio native notched a preseason All-CAA selection and has been Player of the Week in the conference multiple times through her first three years as a Cougar.
She led Charleston to a 24-12 record last season, including an 11-5 conference record. That includes a semifinal appearance in the National Invitational Volleyball Championship in Iowa.
Freed said there’s no pressure in playing Plummer or the No. 1 team in the country. For the Cougars, it’s about maximizing their potential on the court.
And for her, it’s about making her senior year her best season yet.
“We have a lot of good players on this team,” Freed added. "As long as we play our game, I think we can compete with anybody."