Power is not always about strength.
Just ask junior Cody Martin of the Gilbert boys’ volleyball team. Martin, who calls himself “a finesse player,” utilized a soft touch to help the Tigers defeat Corona del Sol, 25-16, 25-15 and capture the Brophy Invitational on Saturday afternoon.
“Power” does not dominate Martin’s game, but his approach of finding open spots on the floor and knowing where opponents cannot return certain shots makes him valuable.
Martin’s variety of drop shots, setting up teammates and an occasional spike propelled Gilbert. In the process, the Tigers delivered a statement that plan to make some noise in the state tournament.
Host Brophy finished in third place. In the semi-final match, the Broncos lost to Corona del Sol, 23-25, 25-10, 15-12.
For now, Martin admitted that winning this prestigious tournament was not a priority.
“We look at the competition here as very strong,” Martin said. “Our goal, as a team, was to play well, and try and get better.”
For coach Jeff Grover, this tournament was also about experimentation. By the end of the two day competition, Grover liked what he saw.
“My goal was to play everyone and see where certain people can contribute,” he said. “After the two days, I have a good feel for our better offensive and defensive players. Everyone here was really pumped up and wanted to win.”
Grover noted a loss earlier this season to Hamilton served as motivation. Though the Tigers swept through the competition in this tournament, Grover cautions about their caliber of play at the moment.
“Sure, it’s great to win here, but we can’t peak at this time,” he added. “I would like to see us reach the pinnacle in the state tournament. That’s our ultimate goal.”
The combination of energy, determination, and physical play clearly carried the Tigers. Aided by the versatility of junior Tyler Hutchins, whose play in the middle kept several balls alive, the Tigers also used contributions from junior Spencer Wright and senior J.C. Smithson to dominated the Aztecs.
In the end, Martin was instrumental in three points which effectively decided the match.
First, he set up Wright for a slam which put Gilbert in a comfortable 20-13 lead in the second set. Then, Martin intelligently dropped a shot in the middle of the Aztecs team, and gave Gilbert a 22-14 advantage. Martin then set up a Wright spike for the match point.
“You don’t have to whack the ball to score points,” Martin added. “You just have to find areas to drop the shot.”