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South Tampa News

Plant's Martin has progressed into elite player

The Tampa Tribune
Published:   |   Updated: March 23, 2013 at 08:36 AM
TAMPA -

During the 2006 volleyball season, Plant High School volleyball head coach Leanna Taylor said then-freshman Maddie Martin would become something special.

A 6-foot-tall outside hitter, Martin saw significant playing time on a senior-driven team, helping Plant win the Class 5A state title that season, Taylor's first as head coach at Plant.

It was a preview of what was to come.

During her three years as a varsity player at Plant, Martin, now a senior, has helped the nationally ranked Panthers win three consecutive state titles. She is a three-time Tampa Tribune All-Hillsborough County Volleyball selection and twice has been named to the Florida All-State Volleyball team.

Although Martin missed a few weeks with an ankle injury during the 2008 season, she still dominated with 198 kills, 47 aces and 25 blocks to help Plant win its third straight title. As a sophomore, she led Plant with 308 kills and 86 aces and was named an All-America Honorable Mention by PrepVolleyball.com. PrepVolleyball.com also ranked Martin as one of the top players in the nation for the Class of 2010.

Martin has chosen where she will play collegiately. Just weeks before her junior season, she committed to Penn State, the 2007 and 2008 NCAA Women's Volleyball champion. She committed to the Nittany Lions over Stanford University and the University of Texas.

At 6 feet, 2 inches, Martin's reach when she jumps is as high as 10 feet. The standout player credits genetics for her athletic ability.

Martin said her father, Mike Martin, played college and professional football. Her older brother, Cameron Martin, was a member of the Plant football team's 2006 state championship team. And if Martin looks familiar, it might be because her mother is one of Tampa Bay's most famous people. Her mother is News Channel 8 anchorwoman Gayle Sierens, whom Martin said was a swimmer.

"I played a bunch of sports when I was younger, and I think that helped me with doing volleyball," Martin said. "Just being athletic in general helped me. I was just the tall lanky girl that could move fast."

Living with one of Tampa's most recognizable people doesn't feel out of the ordinary.

"It's just normal for me because I don't know anything else," she said. "She's been doing it since I've been born. Once she retires, then it'll be weird. A lot of my close friends who know my mom, at first they were like 'that's cool,' but now she's just Gayle."

Martin began playing volleyball at age 10. She joined the Tampa Bay Juniors club volleyball team, created by Florida High Schools Hall of Fame and longtime Berkeley Prep volleyball coach Randy Dagostino.

As a member of Tampa Bay Juniors' 15-Under team, Martin won a gold medal at the USA Junior Olympics.

"I've had the best coaching," she said. "[Dagostino] is the one who actually got me into volleyball. I went to the Berkeley camp and did 2-on-2 with his daughter, and he said I should try out for his club."
In her final season, Martin hopes to win her fourth state title, a feat no volleyball player at Plant has been able to achieve.

"It's all about the team," she said. "I just want to win four in a row; that's the ultimate goal."


Reporter Nick Williams can be reached at (813) 259-7851

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