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Martin chosen as county player of the year: Rossville junior’s all-around talent, leadership shine in 2013

Posted: Friday, January 17, 2014 8:00 pm

BY JIMMY GILLISPIE jgillispie@ftimes.com

Junior Emily Martin became the second-straight Rossville player to win the Clinton County Player of the Year, following Brinsley Cooper a year ago.

Martin didn’t lead the county in kills, blocks, aces or digs. In fact, the junior Hornet didn’t lead the county in any statistical category. Yet, the three opposing coaches voted her player of the year for her all-around talent and leadership. Martin received two first-place and one second-place vote in the all-county selection process.

“She is a strong all-around player,” Clinton Central coach Jessica Barrentine said. “Obviously she stands out on the front row because she’s a strong hitter and hits a really nice line shot. She adjusts well to whatever set she’s given. I also noticed her more so on the back row. Her passing has improved even from last season. She has a great serve. She seems to be a good leader for her team, too.”

Frankfort coach Kia Rushton also acknowledged Martin’s all-around talent.

“She was one of two or three players in the whole county that stood out to me because she’s so fundamentally sound,” Rushton said. “She was really dominant. She is smart and fundamentally sound. To me, she was one of the best players in the area that we saw all year.”

Martin did lead her own team with 346 kills (3.43 per set), 46 aces and 301 digs. Martin also recorded 123 blocks, which was the second-highest on her team and in the county.

Martin was a first-team All-Hoosier Heartland Conference selection this fall. She also won the offensive and defensive awards for the Hornets.

“Emily has a great attitude and she loves the sport,” Rossville coach Jenny Knapp said. “She is very knowledgeable of volleyball and along with her athletic ability and the mental part of it; she just really excels in a lot of areas. We’ve had a lot of talent in the past three years and I think they all learned from each other in different ways.”

Martin was a first-team all-county player as a sophomore, but she would have to step into a more important role during her junior campaign. She accepted the challenge.

“This year, I had to step up my leadership role a lot after we lost four good seniors last year,” Martin said. “I was also really focused on working on my hitting and making sure it was a lot better than my sophomore year, because I knew I would have to step up and hit a lot more. Mattie McGill also had a great year and we had an all-around great team.”

She also benefitted from having junior Mattie McGill on the opposite of the court. Teams couldn’t key on her or McGill because the other would make them pay. Younger Hornets also improved throughout the season as their middle hitter, which made defenses focus on more Rossville players.

“We are both pretty strong outside hitters,” Martin said. “Our middle hitters weren’t very confident early in the year, but I think they got more confident as the year went on. We started setting them more so the block would have to key on them, too. Then we could start using our whole front row more and that helped me have a good year.”

When asked what area she improved the most between sophomore and junior seasons, Martin couldn’t pick just one.

“That’s a hard question, because every year, I gradually get better in every aspect of the game,” Martin said. “I guess I would have to say it’s a tie between hitting and serve receive. I’ve gotten more confident in placing the ball where I want to. Also this past club season, I worked on my serve receive so I was a lot more confident with my passing and reading the ball better.”

Martin had 11 double-doubles with kills and digs in the fall. She recorded her season high in kills, 21, against Tri-Central and her season high in digs, 27, against Tipton. Martin also had a 15 and 20 night against Clinton Prairie. In three of the first four matches, she went for 15-10, 17-15 and 17-19.

“When we played Central Catholic, she played fantastic,” Knapp said. “The energy is always high when we play them and Emily delivered quite well. She also played very strong in our conference games.

“Emily also had a game high against Tri Central with 21 kills,” she added. “She was on fire that night and determined to shut them down.  She showed leadership that night by being so aggressive at the net.”

The Hornets’ season ended in their first sectional match. They led 2-0 against Tri-Central before losing in five sets and finishing their season 20-12. They lose one starter in Jenny Erdman, so Martin has high expectations next fall.

“I think we’ll definitely come back with a strong season next year because we’re going to have a lot of returning starters,” Martin said. “Plus we’ll have some other players back who contributed like Keely (Criswell) and Danielle (Memmer). We also have some good kids on JV that are coming up. We’ll have experience that will help us. We want to win sectionals really bad. I really wanted to win it this year, but it didn’t happen. Next year, it’s got to happen.”