The Regis Rangers are in the Top 10 of Division II volleyball.
RELATED: AVCA Coaches Poll
That's a statement that hasn't been made since 2001. Regis' hot start isn't just a surprise to the DII volleyball world, but to some of the Rangers themselves.
“It came as kind of a shock to us,” senior Caitlyn Martinez said. “We are so new, and we graduated so many seniors last year, I was coming into the season thinking we’re either going to be really good or have a rebuilding year. I was lucky enough that that we’re meshing really well together for being as young as we are.”
Martinez is the lone true senior on the team, joined by redshirt junior Drew Rhamy as the elder stateswomen of the young upstarts. Regis entered this week 14-1, winners of nine in a row. Considering the Rangers were an 18-win team a year ago, this is a major improvement.
“We’re able to play at lot more stable,” Martinez said. “In the past, I had teams that if we were down by two or three, everyone starts freaking out and it plummets from there. With this team, we’re down by two, we’re down by four, it’s no big deal. There was even a time we were down by seven and came back to win. We have this mentality that, 'oh we got this.' It’s a calm that I haven’t had on other teams.”
It's a calm that Martinez has somewhat of a responsibility of helping to maintain. While she won't light up the box scores, her experience plays a bigger factor in Regis' recent success.
“On the court, I know my role," Martinez said. "I’m the stable one, not like Kelsey Green or Caitlyn Burroway, who make those amazing plays and have huge numbers. My role on the team is kind of direction, using my experience to advise the other leaders on the team, or giving suggestions. I hope to be an influential factor more than anything. I’m not trying to boss them around, but influence the direction of the team.”
So, in essence, she's the big sister of the bunch.
“I'm trying to be," Martinez said, laughing. "I am the oldest of three, so I have plenty of experience.”
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the hot start is that they have been road warriors. They have played nine matches away from home (four have been on nuetral sites), including the last five in a row. They are excelling on the court, because many of the pressures off the court have been lifted by first-year head coach Joel List.
“The hardest part of road trips isn’t home-field advantage," Martinez said. "Regis is a very academically inclined school. We are all focused on our grades and studies. I think that [head coach Joel List] has done an amazing job of providing us time to do our work in between matches. I think that has been a huge difference.”
That long road trip came to an end Tuesday night. They headed to Nebraska-Kearney for a matchup between the No. 9 and No. 10 teams in DII volleyball.
“We’re really excited," Martinez said. "They're a more traditional team. We played against them in preseason, so we’re looking forward to seeing how they improved and how we improved.”
Sure, Martinez is a three-year letter winner, but what really makes her the beloved big sis of this young, exciting bunch? Let's step off the court and get to know the Regis senior.
Favorite sports movie: A League of Their Own. I love that movie, it’s my all-time favorite movie.
Favorite sports team: I am a huge Dallas Cowboys fan.
Favorite athlete: It’s Kerri Walsh, for sure.
What’s in your headphones pregame? I like to be a little more stable. I love listening to hip hop and rap, but I listen to more 90s country like Tim McGraw, Alan Jackson and Kenny Chesney. I play better relaxed.
Superstitions: The team, we have our little things we say in the huddle. We always make sure we al go around and say something we’re going to focus on. That helps a lot.
Pregame meal: Oh, bananas are good. Usually what I have before a game are fruit snacks. Fruit snacks are huge with our team, we always have them on hand.
Favorite cartoon: Bugs Bunny.
Favorite TV Show: This is Us. It’s really good. It’s a pretty intense show.
If they made a movie about the Regis volleyball team who would play you? I’d want someone cool. Like [Jessica Biel] in Total Recall. I think she’s really cool.