Katie Martin (left) of Liberty High School participates in the Virginia High School Coaches All-Star volleyball game in this 2015 file photo. Photo by Jill Nance. 

Katie Martin appreciated the years she spent playing volleyball at Liberty High School, but she thought that even then, something was missing.

Four years removed from her playing days, Martin will now have a chance to provide the missing link.

The 6-foot-1 Liberty High grad has been hired as the school’s new volleyball coach and recently was approved to teach math at LHS by the Bedford County School Board.

“It’s always needed someone who really cared about it,” Martin said of the volleyball program, noting it has been a revolving door for coaches in recent years.

The 2015 grad filled numerous roles for the Minettes. She played outside and middle hitter positions, plugged in at right side and moved to setter as a senior, a role that was such a good fit that she garnered all-state honors.

She picked up numerous all-Seminole District and all-region accolades along the way, too.

Martin replaces Chris Phillips, the former Liberty University head volleyball coach, who served in an interim role last season.

Liberty’s roster will be comprised mainly of experienced seniors this season, Martin noted, which should give the Minettes a boost.

Martin is one of two new head coaches in the Seminole this season. At Brookville, Ashley Wilson stepped aside over the winter after 11 years as Bees head coach, and BHS alum Lindsay Sharman was hired in her place.

Martin, who received both her undergraduate and master’s degrees from Virginia Tech, sees the opportunity for plenty of growth at LHS.

“The girls need to work as a team,” she said. “That’s the big thing, for the girls to know how to work together and how to succeed together. If we do that, that’s gonna take us far in the district.”

The district will once again feature powerhouse Jefferson Forest, consistent LCA, revamped Brookville and a Rustburg team that, backed by a talented class of sophomores, is on the rise.

The years she spent playing at Liberty, Martin noted, prepared her for her new role. Liberty athletic director Lori Mattson echoed those sentiments.

“It gave her a great foundation,” Mattson said. “I think she’s going to be able to have a deeper knowledge and understanding [of the program], having grown up in this community.”

Martin recently coached a travel team and a freshman-level squad in Northern Virginia. She’s excited to return to her alma mater.

“It needed a lot of work when I was there, and I recognized that,” Martin said. “It’s always been a growing program. … I wanted to go back somewhere where I can make an impact and give back.”

Ben Cates covers high school sports for The News & Advance. Reach him at (434) 385-5527.

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Ben Cates covers high school sports for The News & Advance. Reach him at (434) 385-5527. 

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