Salpointe Catholic beach volleyball coach Heather Moore-Martin has helped Salpointe to consecutive state titles. She now has seven total. She spent some time on Eye on the Ball to discuss the team’s success.
Steve Rivera: What’s it like winning another title?
Heather Moore-Martin: It’s so incredible, I can’t believe it and looking at the pictures that MaxPreps sent me it was great just re-living so many fun and exciting memories from (earlier in the week).
Jay Gonzales: What was special about this run?
Heather Moore-Martin: The work that these girls have put in. The commitment and it started early as well because of how disappointed our indoor season went. I looked at my seniors at a team party and they just were all ready for the beach.
Steve Rivera: What’s the difference between the sports besides the amount of people on the court?
Heather Moore-Martin: There’s so many little differences. You’re with pairs obviously, and playing another pair. Each pair is unique and you have to pin point the strengths and weaknesses for each one. It gets to be a game of chess that way too. Offense and defense are different too and tailored to whether it’s indoor or on the beach. On the beach, there’s also a blocker at the net, but that person mostly pulls off the net and defends.
Jay Gonzales: How much do you pay attention to what other teams do in a match or do you just do what you do, lineup wise?
Heather Moore-Martin: I think it depends how we start a match. If our team is struggling with the basics then we got to talk about us. If we are playing well and feeling confident then we can start to take the team a part, but only when we are playing good volleyball.
Steve Rivera: Do you match your best two players together or do you match players together based on how they complement each other?
Heather Moore-Martin: That’s what we do. It’s a complementing thing. It’s all about a chemistry thing and you can’t play on the beach without someone who doesn’t jive well with you. Early-on we figured out what worked and what didn’t. We spent a lot of practices just having everyone play with a different partner in every game to see where they are at. It definitely is all about chemistry though.
Steve Rivera: How long does it take for the chemistry to get figured out?
Heather Moore-Martin: This season it was pretty easy. These girls are asked to appreciate each other and when you have a team that likes that and they are just nice and want to work with another person it can happen pretty quickly. It just depends on your team dynamic and what they present to you that year. This year we just had a really good group of girls and I think we could’ve paired them up differently and still be ok.
Jay Gonzales: How do you feel and treat the pressure that comes with the team even though it’s just at the high school level?
Heather Moore-Martin: We felt it on Monday in the semifinals. We were stressed and very nervous and were playing like it, and we had to settle down from that. Then on Tuesday at practice we talked about it and how we could be better on Wednesday and be more confident. We talked about the tools to have in our back pocket to deal with the stress too.
Jay Gonzales: Do you have multiple matches going on at the same time?
Heather Moore-Martin: Yes, in high school there’s two games that happen at the same time. In college, five go on due to the size of the court. It’d be difficult to do in high school unless you had the size of a big facility. We have three courts, but still have two go on.
Jay Gonzales: How do you keep an eye on both games to see what to do strategically?
Heather Moore-Martin: It’s a combination of things, like we have a really great staff in place, but it’s also on the girls and on them to communicate with each other and manage the game. The girls need to be advocates for themselves and speak up when there’s a call they don’t like. Some teams, especially younger, do struggle with that, but as the get older they learn to own it.
Steve Rivera: How has it been for you guys staying on top after two in a row?
Heather Moore-Martin: Well, we have the two on the beach and were a runner-up in 2016. I have a pairs state championship with Alex Parkhurst and Abby Russell. Altogether, I have seven state titles, but that includes indoor.
Jay Gonzales: Why are people gravitating more to beach volleyball?
Heather Moore-Martin: I think the autonomy. The girls do a lot on their own. On the beach there’s no coaching whereas there is for indoor. The sun, beach, and mountains also factor in with it being beautiful.
Jay Gonzales: Do you think the Olympics have an impact on that as well?
Heather Moore-Martin: The Olympics do really help. We’ve been very successful in a few Olympics, both men and women. People that go watch beach volleyball are attracted to it, and I think it can grow very quickly based on the atmosphere alone.
Jay Gonzales: How much of an attraction is it for people to know that the best in the country for the sport are playing very close to home?
Heather Moore-Martin: It’s huge. The possibility of getting a scholarship and playing more is very motivating.