Martin’s solid play equal to that of volleyball team

The Gophers hope their play, and that of Erin Martin, carries into tonight’s match at Iowa.

Jeff Barthel

Minnesota’s volleyball team finally put up a Big Ten win this season. They were able to gain two victories at home last weekend by defeating Northwestern and Illinois.

And its victories went hand-in-hand with a particular player.

“Sometimes as Erin (Martin) goes,” coach Mike Hebert said, “so do the Gophers.”

When the Gophers (9-7 overall, 2-2 Big Ten) travel to Iowa (5-9, 0-4) tonight, they might look to Martin, an outside hitter, to lead them to another Big Ten win and the team’s first on the road.

The junior had a phenomenal home performance last weekend at the Sports Pavilion. She led the team in hitting percentage with a .369 mark and also smacked 37 kills, good for second on the team next to Trisha Bratford’s 39 kills.

But Martin knows this type of consistency needs to keep up for the team to be successful.

“It was just one week,” Martin said. “I’ve got do it every week.”

Currently, her season statistics in these categories are 3.08 kills per game, 2.29 digs per game and a .246 hitting percentage.

“I consider Erin to be our swing player,” Hebert said. “Last weekend she was able to keep track of her mental game and do well.”

Martin credits coach Brian Heffernan with helping her game.

“I’ve talked a lot with Brian about being more consistent in matches and games,” Martin said. “He’s helped a lot.”

Martin also talked of how upset she was about the losses Sept. 26 and Sept. 27 to Indiana and Purdue.

“It kind of stunk,” Martin said. “It just made me want to work harder and play better.”

It paid off.

Martin was named Big Ten player of the week, the first time a Minnesota player has received the honor this season.

Martin grew up in Ames, Iowa. As the Gophers get set to play in Iowa City, Iowa, tonight, Martin can’t help but be excited about playing two and a half hours from home.

“My mom and all my friends from high school will get to be there,” Martin said. “It’ll be nice to see my friends from Iowa and Iowa State.”

Perhaps this will help Martin maintain the confidence she and the rest of her team played with in the Gophers’ wins last weekend.

“It was extremely encouraging,” Hebert said about the win over Illinois on Saturday. “Probably the most confident match our team has played so far.”

The Gophers have won 15 straight matches over the Hawkeyes. The team hopes to continue its success at Carver-Hawkeye Arena at 7 p.m. Wednesday in a mid-week match.