Trailing in a match is unfamiliar territory for the No. 1 Nittany Lions, but sometimes things happen. Down a set to Indiana at home, the Lions needed a spark to keep their winning streak alive.
Then junior outside hitter Maddie Martin entered the game.
Things began to click for the Lions and within minutes the squad had dug itself out of a rut and had knotted the match at one game apiece. The Lions then rattled off two more sets to win the match 3-1 and improved their winning streak to 12 games.
Despite the slow start, the Lions were able to battle back –– something they have only had to do from being down a set three times this season –– and improved to 9-0 at home this season.
Martin’s presence on the court combined with junior right side Ariel Scott’s ability to turn around her slow start ultimately helped the Lions down the Hoosiers.
“Had Maddie Martin not stepped up and played well and A. Scott kind of gathered herself after a slow start, we would of found ourselves in an even worse conversation,” coach Russ Rose said.
Martin saw action in all three of the sets the Lions won and ended the night with four kills and a service ace. She also recorded nine digs and played more than usual, playing some big minutes on the court when junior outside hitter Deja McClendon was not.
The Tampa, Fla. native’s increased role Saturday night did not catch her off guard and she says that preparation is key because she never knows when Rose is going to call on her.
“I wouldn’t say that I was surprised, but I know I always need to be ready,” the 6-foot-2 Martin said. “Regardless if someone’s playing bad, or if the team needs some type of spark, I always need to be ready to play. I know that when I get the chance, I need to take advantage of the opportunity.”
This season Martin has seen action in all but four matches and ranks fifth on the squad with 1.59 digs per set. She also is sixth on the team with 1.32 kills per set.
The 2011 Academic All-Big Ten player also sits third on the Lions with nine service aces. That’s triple the number she had in her freshman campaign.
Even with those seasonal numbers, Martin feels as though she could have played better against the Hoosiers on Saturday night.
“I think I could of done a lot of things better,” she said. “I think I could of attacked a lot better and I got aced once and I missed a serve. There’s always areas of the game that I could improve on, so I need to work on those.”
To email reporter: email@example.com