GREENVILLE, N.C. — Shelby Martin, an alumnus of Waxahachie High School's storied volleyball program, has seemingly settled into her new role as a setter at NCAA Division I East Carolina University.
In Friday's season opener against the College of William and Mary, she handed out two dozen assists during the Lady Pirates' 3-0 sweep at Minges Coliseum.
ECU (1-0) swept the Tribe — a somewhat ironic moniker given Martin's roots — 25-22, 25-22 and 25-19 in the first of three matches in the ECU Invitational. It also improved to 4-1 in season openers under Head Coach Julie Torbett and 3-2 in its last 15 matches when winning the first set.
Martin debuted in the first start and game of her collegiate career by recording a match-high 26 assists. She also landed a single ace past the outstretched fingers of William and Mary defenders.
The former Lady Indian's 847 career assists, 751 kills, 566 digs and 126 aces helped Waxahachie reach the regional semifinal round of the University Interscholastic League postseason the program's sixth, seventh and eighth consecutive times.
One of the recipients of Martin's dead-eye passes Friday was senior outside hitter Lael Ceriani, who finished 15-for-30 on kill attempts (.367 hitting percentage) and committed only four hitting errors. Fellow freshman right side hitter Bri Wood was another, tallying nine kills.
"I was really pleased with our passing tonight and that allowed us to run an efficient offense," Torbett said in a post-game press conference. "It was great to see us limit our hitting errors but we need to work on serving the ball in the court."
As a team, ECU hit no lower than .222 in every set, including hitting .400 in the third. They finished with a .305 hitting percentage.
Though ECU opened with an 8-3 advantage, the Tribe swung rallied to close the gap to 10-8. Sparked by back-to-back kills by Wood and another by Ashton Mares — each after a Martin assist — the Lady Pirates rebounded and pushed the lead 17-11.
They ended the set with a Ceriani kill.
During the second, Martin was responsible for 10 of the Lady Pirates' 15 assists. Madison Clark had four and Alex Jessett had one. ECU Head Coach Julie Torbett praised her team's accuracy, noting it as a key approach to the rest of the invitational.
In the third and final set, the Lady Pirates claimed a 12-6 advantage, building a lead as large as six points and not allowing the Tribe to erase the deficit.
"Our freshmen stepped up in a big way tonight in front of a big crowd," said Torbett, who is six away from career victory No. 400. "We look forward to a pair of tough matches with Georgia State and Rutgers tomorrow."
ECU is scheduled to face Georgia State University at 10 a.m. and Rutgers University at 7 p.m. at Minges Coliseum.
Marcus S. Marion is the sports editor of the Waxahachie Daily Light and Midlothian Mirror. He can be reached by phone at (469) 517-1456 or across social media platforms @MarcusSMarion.