Sarah Martin & Kelly Vahos

Sarah Martin and Kelly Vahos shake hands before starting the next set.

For many athletes, just having the chance to play sports for a major university is all some ask for. For others, excelling and finding a mark in the record books is something isn’t enough. For junior setter Sarah Martin of JMU women’s volleyball, 2,000 career assists with the Dukes is an accomplishment that was fought for. It was also a feat that she was completely unaware she accomplished.

“I didn’t even know the number was that high until the team told me,” Martin said. “It would be really cool to own the record, but I don’t even know what it is.”

Martin’s enthusiasm and high spirits can be seen in her play on the court. She’s a force to be reckoned with and has only grown as a player, a teammate and a friend in her volleyball family. Senior outside hitter Bryn Recker has been with Martin since her JMU career began, and she’s only seen her overcome obstacle after obstacle to establish herself as an asset to her team.

“She’s grown tremendously,” Recker said. “She tore her labrum her freshman year and again at the end of her sophomore year. [Martin has] had a lot of adversity she’s had to come through and it’s just made her that much better.”

Martin’s fight back to the top through multiple injuries has only elevated her to the pinnacle of her game. 2,000 assists in three years is not an easy accomplishment, and the JMU fans in Sinclair gymnasium erupted in applause upon learning Martin’s accomplishments. Head coach Lauren Steinbrecher also stressed the importance of her junior setter and how proud she was of her.

“She touches every ball,” Steinbrecher said. “She’s obviously gotten a lot better on the court both mentally as a leader and as a volleyball player.”

For as much as Martin’s accomplished, she remains humble as ever. She never fails to compliment her teammates and only continues to thrive with them as the Dukes fight for yet another CAA title. Martin’s number of 2,000 is impressive, but there’s only one number she’s focused on: the number four.

“I want to get four rings,” Martin said. “I want to win all four years I’m here.”

To Martin, personal accomplishments aren’t nearly as important as her team’s accomplishments. Getting an NCAA tournament berth is what she wants more than anything.

“Winning the first round of the NCAA tournament is a big goal,” Martin said. “And then after that first round, bring on the second round.”

This Duke had to overcome severe injuries only to become stronger from recovery. Her team has had her back on and off the court, and her astounding 2,000 assists has proven that she has her team’s back as well.

While this accomplishment might be enough for most athletes to be satisfied, Martin’s drive only becomes stronger. Her goals thrive as her stats do. Her assists and play only get better and her legacy only continues to further establish itself like her will to win every week.

Contact Jordan Simal at simaljg@dukes.jmu.edu. For more volleyball coverage, follow the sports desk on Twitter @TheBreezeSports.