Female Area Athlete of the Week: Pequot setter feeds the hitting machine for Patriots
Pequot Lakes senior earns female area athlete of the week
Abi Martin knows how to set up her hitters.
The senior setter for Pequot Lakes tallied 57 set assists and 21 digs last week in sweeps over Brainerd and Park Rapids.
Against Brainerd, Martin recorded 34 set assists and helped her teammates Maci Martini get 17 kills and Ella Kratochvil 10.
She followed it with 23 set assists against Park Rapids.
“Maci and Ella are both amazing hitters,” Martin said. “It is so hard to not set them the ball every time I can. But even other hitters besides Maci and Ella are so good. Our team is just so well rounded and I feel comfortable setting any position. But Maci is one of my best friends and I just love playing with her and Ella and I have played together since fifth grade and we’ve been on the same team every year, so I can trust her.”
Pequot Lakes head coach Chris Ganley said what sets Martin apart is her intelligence.
“She’s very smart,” she said. “She knows the game very well and most setters need to know who to set when, and I think she has a pretty good understanding of that.”
Martin also recorded 10 digs against Brainerd and 11 against Park Rapids. She said being able to dig is important for her in the 5-1 rotation Pequot runs.
“Defense is important for me as a setter because some teams' strategy is to serve at a setter especially when we run a 5-1,” Martin said. “Without the setter, there is not anyone on the team that is the setter, so if I can get a good ball up, I know our libero Kelsi (Martini) will get a good set in. Which is good because we don’t want the setters to give up defense because teams will pick up on that.”
For the season, Martin has recorded 139 set assists and 35 digs through the first five games.
“She’s great at defense and she knows she has to play defense and serve-receive potentially,” Ganley said. “I think that one of the things she’s improved at is playing balls out of the net and things that may be going out of system. She’s got a great understanding of the court.”
Pequot has plenty of weapons which is why they are the top-ranked team in Class 2A.
Martin said with all the great hitters around her, she tries to set every ball the same, but knows the sweet spots of her teammates.
“Both Ella and Maci like it in different spots,” Martin said. “Maci loves to have tight balls that she can swing away and try to hit them as hard as she can. Ella likes it a little more off center that she can find spots and do little tips and such.”
Martin reached her 1,000 set assist in a 3-0 win over Crosby-Ironton Thursday.
Last season, Martin was named to the Dispatch All-Area first team and played in 86 sets and finished with 822 set assists, 194 digs (2.3 per set), 18 blocks and 33 ace serves (90% serving).
This year, Martin said she’s tried to improve on her jump set, something she worked on in the offseason.
“It’s something I worked on from all positions, so people can’t guess where I am going with the ball,” she said.
Martin said the Brainerd game is always one of her favorites. It's a matchup the Patriots have won the past two seasons.
“That game is so fun,” she said. “It honestly doesn’t even compare to any other games that we play. It’s similar to a playoff atmosphere with everyone from both teams supporting and it’s just so fun.”
Martin said the Patriots know everyone is gunning for them since they are the top-ranked team in their class.
“It’s definitely in the back of our minds,” she said. “But we are reminded by our coach almost every single practice that even though we are the No. 1 team, we are still expected to show up and play because everyone will be wanting to beat us. We just try to come into it with the same mentality that we are going to fight and play our game.”
Ganley said as a captain Martin leads mostly by example.
“I think she is a great player in the sense where if she makes maybe not the best play, she self corrects and is able to make it better the next time,” Ganley said.
Other notable performances:
Volleyball: Hannah Barchus, Pine River-Backus, tallied 49 kills, 43 digs, 10 ace serves and four blocks
Alaura Dahl, Pine River-Backus, recorded 97 set assists and 26 digs.
Katie Blaha, Verndale, tallied 40 digs, 47 kills and seven blocks.
Reagen Ludovissie, Verndale, recorded 40 set assists, 30 digs, 22 kills and 10 ace serves.
Ella Kratochvil, Pequot Lakes, recorded 19 kills, 28 digs and four ace serves.
Maci Martini, Pequot Lakes, tallied 25 kills, 20 digs and five ace serves.
Cross-Country: Calia Chaney, Pequot Lakes, won the Lucky Lindy title in 18:54.1.
Emma Reader, Pillager, won the Pine River-Backus meet in 21:57.8.
Tennis: Ellie Ouradnik, Pequot Lakes, is 22-1 at No. 4 singles.
School: Pequot Lakes
Highlights: She recorded 57 set assists and 21 digs on the week.