Volleyball: Martini spikes her way to player of the year
Pequot Lakes junior is Dispatch All-Area Player of the Year
There’s not much Maci Martini can’t do on the volleyball court.
The Pequot Lakes’ junior captain led the Patriots to a 24-7 record and one set shy of another state tournament appearance.
Martini led the area in kills with 420 in 86 sets played which averaged to 4.9 per set. She also had a kill percentage of 32.7%.
The outside hitter is the 2021 Dispatch All-Area Volleyball Player of the Year and the second Pequot Lakes player in a row to win the honor.
“I knew I would have to have a more vocal role on the team after losing so many seniors,” Martini said. “I had great role models in the senior class last year, so it helps to see how they played and how they communicated. That’s helped me step into the leading role this season.”
Pequot Lakes head coach Chris Ganley said it was “fantastic” to have a junior like Martini step up to be a leader this year.
“We graduated so many kids and she stepped up and said ‘OK, I can contribute and I can lead here,’” Ganley said. “She was able to score against some of the best teams we played and we played a lot of great teams. She can put the ball away in so many ways. She hits out of every position well. She’s got a great slide out of the right side. She’s great out of the back row. And of course, she’s been hitting for us from the left side for three seasons. She has a really strong line shot which is really fun, but then if they take away the line she can rip it across.”
She tallied 314 digs in the back row which was three shy of her sister Kelsi Martini who is the Patriots’ libero, for the team lead in the category.
“I practiced playing in the back row a lot in the offseason,” Maci Martini said. “That helped me this year because I knew I had to step it up playing the whole game and playing all the way around. I always knew I would be successful hitting, but my passing I had to work on. (My sister and I) have a volleyball net in our backyard so we always play whenever we have free time and it’s nice to have her so we can do drills together and it makes it a lot more fun.”
Ganley said the nice thing about Maci Martini in the back row is she can attack from there.
“Even when she’s not in the perfect spot she can still dig a lot of balls,” Ganley said.
Martini recorded 21 blocks and also 58 ace serves which led the team with a 91.5 serve percentage.
“I always wanted to perfect my jump serve and Chris (Ganley) had a lot of confidence in me and she pushed me to be a better jump server,” Martini said. “It was more just routine and getting into that routine. It really just helped to practice a lot and we would stay after practice and just serve a little bit.”
Serving has been the biggest growth in Martini’s game Ganley said
“She’s developed this jump serve with quite a bit of drop to it,” Ganley said. “I love when she’s serving between players and in the seam and because it has a lot of drop to it it’s tough to receive.”
Martini earned All-State honors as well as being All-Mid-State Conference MVP. She was an all-tournament team selection at the 2021 Class 2A Showcase and again at the St. Michael Albertville 32-team tournament.
“When you have a hitter that can be your ‘game-winner’ it builds everyone’s confidence,” Ganley said. “Hitting out of the three positions definitely helps us. And with her back row attack — she’s really hitting out of four positions.”
Martini formed a good relationship with junior setter Abi Martin. The two have played together in the past, but this was the first year as full-time teammates on the varsity level.
Martin responded leading the area in set assists with 822 most of which went to Martini.
“This year was a lot of fun playing with Abi because she is one of my best friends,” Martini said. “So we were really looking forward to this season because she would be setting me. And we haven’t gotten to play together in the past seasons for a while, so it’s really fun this year playing together.”
Ganley said Martin improved to be able to set Martini even when she was in the back row.
“I think Abi worked really hard to get the sets for Maci, so she could swing on them hard,” Ganley said. “I think Abi did a fantastic job.”
Martini said she had a boost of confidence this year.
“I felt like I could help my team win more this year because of my experience compared to other players on the team,” Martini said.
The biggest improvement to her game Martini said is her ability to find shots on the court.
“A lot of teams will line their best blockers up on me, so I’ve had to learn to hit around the block and still find ways to score,” she said. “So I feel like I’ve improved on that more instead of just hitting it as hard as I can all the time.”
There’s a lot of positive energy around next year's Pequot Lakes team as the three players on the Dispatch All-Area First Team and one player on All-Area Second Team are returning underclassmen. The Patriots fell in five sets to Sauk Centre in the Section 6-2A finals this year. Sauk Centre went on to be Class 2A champions.
“Even though we lost to Sauk Centre in five sets, we have a lot to be proud of because they won state,” Martini said. “That definitely gives us motivation for next year and I know all the returning players are excited and hopefully it will be another successful season.”
CONRAD ENGSTROM may be reached at 218-855-5861 or email@example.com. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/the_rad34.
School: Pequot Lakes
Position: Outside hitter
Stats: Played 86 sets and finished with 420 kills (4.9 per set, 32.7 kill percentage), 314 digs (3.7 per set), 21 blocks and 58 ace serves (91.5 serve percentage).
All-Area Volleyball Players of Year
2021: Maci Martini, PL
2020: Lydia Hubbard, PL
2019: Avery Eckman, Brd
2018: Bailey Wynn, PRB
2017: Casey Volkmann, WDC
2016: Shania Glenz, Verndale
2015: Shania & Jordyn Glenz, Verndale
2014: Shania & Jordyn Glenz, Verndale
2013: Bridget Bednar, Pierz
2012: Emily Miron, WDC
2011: Sydnie Mauch, Brd; Brittney Noon, WDC
2010: Courtney Volkmann, WDC
2009: Courtney Volkmann, WDC
2008: Brigetta Berg, WDC
2007: Katie Kimman, Pierz
2006: Annie Adams, C-I
2005: Erin Cusac, PRB
2004: Erin Cusac, PRB