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by Kaylee Noborikawa, staff writer

 

“I refused to grow up,” she said. “I told my mom that if I grew taller than 6 feet, I would stay in the house forever.”

Martin is glad she changed her mind. The 6 foot 3 middle blocker from Curitaba, Brazil finishes her career this year as an All-American and, according to former HPU women’s volleyball Head Coach Tita Ahuna, Martin is possibly one of the best players to come out of the HPU volleyball program.
Besides leading the team on the court as a captain this year, Martin leads the Lady Sea Warriors in kills, aces, and digs. Her ability to put away the ball and play defense at the net are several reasons why Martin was named first team All-Conference, first team All-Region, and an AVCA first team All-American in 2005. Martin broke several HPU records during her four-year career.

In 2004, Martin broke the record for highest kill percentage in a season at .437 and the single-season block record with 136 blocks. The following year, she became HPU’s all-time leader in blocks, recording 344 in only three seasons.

In Brazil, Martin led her high school to the state tournament twice, winning the year she graduated. She also played for the Brazilian national team for three years, starting when she was 16, before going to Universidade Tuiuti do Parana for two years. She dropped out of school and quit playing volleyball to help her family by working at a local gym.

One day in 2003, she got a phone call from Roberta Roberts, with whom she had played club volleyball with. Roberts was attending HPU with several other Brazilian teammates and wanted Martin to join the team. At first, Martin was hesitant to leave her family and friends to play volleyball in Hawai‘i.

“ I was mainly scared to come to Hawai‘i because I didn’t know how to speak English,” Martin said. But after three months of persuasion, Martin decided that HPU was an opportunity to get a good education and play volleyball at the same time.

The language barrier frustrated Martin at first because she always had to ask the Brazilians on the team to come with her whenever she wanted to go out.

“ I used to tell them, ‘I don’t want to go out; people are going to talk to me,’” said Martin, who also had difficulty communicating in school. Now in her fourth year, she is fluent if not occasionally eloquent.

Martin, like most of the team, was devastated in 2006, when Ahuna resigned.

“ I came here because of her, and I thought she would wait for me to finish,” Martin said. “She was like my family here.”

Now that it’s her senior year, Martin admits that it’s not what she expected. After winning the PacWest Conference last year, the team has a losing record this year.

“ I’m kind of frustrated this year, but I understand that we have a lot of new girls,” said Martin. “I wish I didn’t have to stop, but there’s no professional league here. It’s weird that next year I won’t be on the team.”

One positive aspect about this year is that her younger sister, Caroline, is now at HPU on scholarship to play for the Lady Sea Warriors in 2007.

“ I’m just so happy to have her here close to me. It’s a great feeling,” she said.
Martin hopes to graduate in 2008 with her undergraduate degree in nursing. She also hopes to find a job in Hawai‘i and live here permanently.

“ This is paradise. I love it here, and I hope I can have my family here, too.”
Junior Melissa Aki, who has played with Martin for three years at HPU, said she will be sad to see her leave.

“ I look up to her,” Aki said. “For her to be leaving is going to be awkward, because she would always answer my questions and help me. She’s like my role model.”

 

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