Martin leads Redbirds over Pirates
By Murray Gleffe
DE PERE — It isn’t often a high school volleyball team has a 6-foot-6 outside hitter like De Pere sophomore Kennedy Martin.
She’s an athlete blessed with height and a big kill shot.
Martin led the Redbirds to a Fox River Classic Conference victory (25-12, 22-25, 25-17, 25-21) over Bay Port April 6 at De Pere High School.
“We’ve been relying on that fast energy and start out of the gates in many contests this season,” said PJ Brocker III, De Pere head coach. “Bay Port responded in the second set, and I thought we pushed back nicely in the final two sets to get the win.”
The Redbirds (9-1 overall) took an early 9-5 lead in the opener behind Brianna Geurts knocking down a service ace.
De Pere then extended its margin by rattling off 12 of the next 13 points.
Much of the damage was done by Martin’s kills, the middle hitting of Avery Butrym and countless setting errors by the Pirates.
“Kennedy has been getting more comfortable every game,” Brocker said. “This is her first year of varsity, and it was evident how dominant a force she can be. On any given point, she can carry a team on her back. Avery had a super game because she made smart choices to find open spots on the floor.”
With a large lead in hand, the Redbirds won the first set by double digits.
Bay Port (3-7 overall) took an early 12-9 lead in set two, but De Pere battled back to lead 20-18 after Geurts laid down a cross-court kill.
The Pirates scored seven of the final nine points with Izzy Grace getting the final put away to even the match at one set apiece.
The Redbirds opened up leads of 8-1 and 20-7 in the third set and held on to win by eight points after a Pirates’ comeback down the stretch was cut short.
De Pere fell behind early and often in the fourth set but finally regained the lead at 14-13 after Anna VanWormer put down an ace.
Near the end, the Redbirds’ height advantage took over, as Martin and Anna Heling got up for blocks to propel De Pere to the victory.
“Being tall has been an advantage in gaining more balls than the average person,” said Martin. “It’s cool to experience this and to play on high-level teams. These girls have welcomed me. They’ve helped me adjust to the varsity level and are very kind.”
De Pere will host Green Bay Southwest on April 8, and Bay Port will travel to Green Bay Preble.
Both teams open up regionals April 10.