Aycock's Madison Martin signs NLI with Lees-McRae
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on April 19, 2014 11:30 PM
PIKEVILLE -- Madison Martin experienced the proverbial trifecta during her official visit to Lees-McRae.
The Division II school is nestled in the picturesque Great Smoky Mountains and offers a top-notch athletic training curriculum. Plus, the Bobcats are trying to restore their once tradition-rich volleyball program with barely a handful of returning starters.
Martin couldn't say "no."
The Charles B. Aycock senior officially signed a national letter-of-intent with L-MC on Friday afternoon. She considered Fairmont State (W. Va.) University, Louisburg College, Western Carolina and Appalachian State before deciding on the Bobcats.
"I know that with them starting (the program) over, I can come in and show them what I can do, and that I'm a good choice for their team," Martin said. "At first, starting out with all new players, the first season is probably not going to be very good, but it's going to help us a lot because we can get on a level of playing really well together, I think."
Internal problems have nearly destroyed Lees-McRae over the past two seasons. The Bobcats were a combined 8-26 in Conference Carolinas play the past two seasons, and finished winless against league opposition in 2013. That hadn't happened since 1995 when L-MC moved to the Division II ranks.
Before the on- and off-the-court distractions, the Bobcats seized 13 regular-season and 13 conference tournament championships from 1997-2011. They made 11 appearances in the NCAA Division II tournament and reached the regional semifinals on five occasions during that span.
A veteran travel-ball performer, Martin played setter on the junior varsity team at Aycock during her freshman year. She moved up to varsity as a sophomore and played the entire rotation for then-head coach Davis Harris.
Martin became a defensive specialist as a junior and took over libero duties this past fall. She averaged 26 digs an outing for the Golden Falcons, who advanced to the postseason for the third consecutive season.
"I have learned so much about the libero (position) and that you have to be a loud, vocal person which I've grown to be," laughed Martin, who started her travel-ball career with WAVE as an eighth-grader and spent the past two seasons with Eastern Elite Volleyball Club.
"You have to have good court awareness, read the hitters and blockers and it's also important to be a support system for your team. What I struggle with sometimes is reading the ball. Sometimes I will get caught behind the block in the wrong place or read the hitter wrong, so that's something I definitely need to work on."
The mental and physical grind of travel-ball competition helped Martin grow stronger at the libero position. Facing high-quality opponents during tournaments and showcases also allowed her to display her abilities to college scouts.
"I would definitely say I loved it ... enjoyed every year of it," Martin said of her prep career. "I can say that my junior year was definitely the best year that we had. It was a journey."
And a new one is about to begin.
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