Q&A With Erin Martin
Oct. 9, 2003
Minnesota outside hitter Erin Martin was named the Big Ten Volleyball Co-Player of the Week on October 6th. The junior received the honor after leading the Gophers to two Big Ten victories over the weekend. She recorded 15 kills and 10 digs against Northwestern and had another 22 kills versus Illinois. In 2002, Martin ranked third in the Big Ten in service aces (52), and she led the Gophers in solo blocks (26). Martin was also recognized as a Minnesota Scholar-Athlete following her sophomore year. Here is how Erin answered some of our questions about playing on a defending Conference Champion team, playing with consistency, and where she thinks the Gophers can go this year.
As defending Big Ten champions, do the games seem harder? Do you feel like teams are aiming at you because you are Minnesota?
Yeah. We kind of felt like we had a target on our backs to start this year, and we didn't play too well to start this year, which, I have been partially due to that. Going into the Big Ten, I think Purdue and Indiana felt pretty good when the knocked us off last week, so we knew we had to bounce back and that it wasn't going to be a cake walk through the Big Ten this year. We can lose on any given night, so we found that out the first week and now we're just trying to get our game back together.
The team did receive a lot of preseason attention, being named unanimous preseason favorites, and then got off to a slow start before winning 10 of 13. Did the attention or the expectations affect the team?
We were really tense going into our first few matches, we just felt like we had a lot on our shoulders, and people expected a lot out of us. That was hard for us because it wasn't that way at all last year for us. That's why it was so easy for us last year because nobody expected anything out of us in 2002, and we were just able to show everybody how good we were. This year it's a lot hard because people know how we play, and they know what to expect. So it's a little more difficult to go out and surprise people when they know what you're going to do.
What was it that sparked the 10-3 run?
I guess we just realized that we needed to get out heads on straight, that we had a lot we wanted to do and a lot we want to accomplish. We knew that we had to change something. So we just went out there and tried to do our best, and I guess it worked.
Where do you see the Gophers going this year?
Our goal is to go to the final four and we want to repeat as Big Ten champs. It looked like that was out goal at the beginning of the season. We had a meeting after our Purdue match, and we just talked about that we needed to get back in to our groove and stuff like that, instead of having all of these lofty goals. So now we're just trying to play and have fun again and enjoy the game.
It says in your athletic bio that with your athletic ability, you have the potential to be one of the best attackers in the Big Ten with more consistency. What are you doing this year that has made you more consistent?
That was one thing I talked a lot about with my coach after our first weekend of Big Ten games. Of how I can go out on one night and play really well and then the next night I won't play so hot. So I've just been working really hard in practice to make sure that I'm consistent there and I think that, in turn, has carried over into my games. These last few games I've been pretty consistent, and my coach has said that too. He said I had a really consistent week in practice last week and that's something that has shown up in my games. As long as I'm consistent in practice, I'll be consistent in games too.
What goes through your mind as you're approaching the ball for a kill?
I don't know, I don't really think about it. As a freshman, I thought way too much and I would always psych myself out. Now I just go up and swing. I'll look at the blockers before I hit, and I see if the middle is not going to close all the way, I know I'll have a hole, and so I'll try to hit it. We also have our defensive players behind us, who are calling our shots for us. And if they see that the line is moving, they'll call it. So I don't really think, I just listen to what they say, and hit whatever they tell me to hit. So, it's pretty easy for me.
As a conference leader in service aces last year (Martin was ranked third), how do you do it? Where do you get your power from, or is it something other than power?
I just go up and hit the ball hard. This year I haven't been jump serving as much and I think Cassie (Busse) is doing really well this year, I know she has a lot of them. So I don't think I have as many aces this year, but it's not a big deal really. As long as I'm putting the ball in play and keeping the other team in trouble, that's what I'm thinking about. It's not like, 'oh, I have to get an ace this time,' it's like if I can create an opportunity where they're in trouble, then that's the best thing for me.
How excited are people on campus about Minnesota football?
We're really excited about this weekend because we get to go to a game finally. On Friday, we get to go and we get our championship rings at halftime, so we're really pumped. Plus, all we ever get to do really is watch them on TV, because either they're away, or we're away, or they play at the same time as us. So, we're real excited about this weekend because we finally get to go and watch them play on Friday against Michigan and it's a pretty big game. It's a lot of fun to have them doing well. It's really exciting because we're good friends with a lot of those guys.