Stanwood senior Devon Martinka attempts a spike during practice on Sept. 12, 2018, at Stanwood High School. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Stanwood senior Devon Martinka attempts a spike during practice on Sept. 12, 2018, at Stanwood High School. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Stanwood senior volleyball standout has winning formula

Devon Martinka is humble, hardworking and poised to lead the Spartans to a 3rd straight state berth.

Devon Martinka would probably be the last one to boast about her impressive stat lines. She spoke of crediting others when asked about the impression she likes to leave opponents with after a game.

But the Stanwood senior stands out, and it’s not just because of her 6-foot-2 frame. Martinka just prefers to let her game speak for itself.

“I like to be humble and hardworking, and that’s how you win,” Martinka said.

Even if Martinka doesn’t often illuminate her own skill, it’s hard to ignore the impact she’s made for the Spartans and in Wesco. She’s been a fixture in Stanwood reaching the 3A state tournament the past two seasons and undoubtedly will factor into the Spartans’ ability to reach state for a third straight time this fall.

That’s largely due to Martinka’s ability to improve each year, combined with another senior-heavy Spartans club.

Make no mistake, when Martinka joined the Spartans varsity team as a freshman, she was supremely talented, but Stanwood coach Megan Amundson has been most impressed with Martinka’s continued pursuit to develop all her skill.

“She’s always been a dominant player in the front row,” Amundson said. “Last year was a big year for her. She turned into an all-around volleyball player. She is really strong in all six rotations.”

She also transitioned from a major complementary piece to someone who could take over a game.

Stanwood senior Devon Martinka returns a volley during practice on Sept. 12, 2018, at Stanwood High School. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Stanwood senior Devon Martinka returns a volley during practice on Sept. 12, 2018, at Stanwood High School. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Never was that more evident than when the Spartans won a thrilling five-set home match against fellow Wesco power Snohomish last season.

“I definitely remember it,” said Martinka. “It was such an intense game, and the year before I was a sophomore and we lost to them, and we were just devastated. That was the game that we really wanted to win.”

Martinka was on fire. She churned out a school-record 28 kills and helped carry her team to an emotional win.

“She really had a strong team around her that allowed her to shine in tight moments,” Amundson said. “She doesn’t shy away from a challenge and wants to put her team on her back and get it done for all of them.

“Even coming into freshman year, I’d definitely call her one of our go-to hitters. But I would say between her sophomore and junior year is when she really started taking on and handling that pressure.”

Martinka certainly doesn’t lack competitive drive. Whether it be at the state tournament or playing on a national level with her club team, Seattle Juniors, in packed convention centers in Detroit, Colorado or New Orleans, Martinka relishes playing on grand stages.

“It can be nerve-racking, but it’s just the adrenaline of it,” said Martinka of what she likes about playing in big games.

Stanwood’s Devon Martinka (left) and Veaya Carter react to a point during practice on Sept. 12, 2018, at Stanwood High School. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Stanwood’s Devon Martinka (left) and Veaya Carter react to a point during practice on Sept. 12, 2018, at Stanwood High School. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Martinka comes from an athletic family. Her brother, AJ, plays men’s basketball at the University of Colorado, but Devon found her niche on the volleyball court at a young age.

“When I was younger I was tall,” Martinka explained. “I was good at (volleyball). It seemed to come easy for me. Also, I didn’t like how physical basketball was, and that’s why I kept with volleyball. I like how competitive it is.”

While Martinka addressed the repercussion of being so tall — she pointed to difficulty finding long enough pants and detailed the struggle of group photos — Martinka’s height and skill combination has her on college recruiters’ radar.

She’s received Division-I interest, but is in no rush to decide where she’ll continue her volleyball career once she leaves Stanwood. She’s visited various campuses during the many volleyball camps she’s attended and plans to play another year of club volleyball after this fall.

“The big thing is how good of a teammate she is,” Amundson said. “She bonds with her teammates, and I think someone of her skill level, it could be easy to walk around with too much swagger. We feel like Devon has stayed really grounded to make herself better. It’s been more of a, ‘We need to do a good job to get better.’ It’s good to coach that and for the younger kids to see that.”

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