July 16, 2009 in Sports

Ferris grad Lorenz reaches a high point

Volleyball newcomer lands college scholarship
By The Spokesman-Review
Courtesy of Lorenz family photo

Marty Lorenz learned volleyball on the beach, but his immediate future is indoors at CS Northridge. Courtesy of Lorenz family
(Full-size photo)

What began simply as a fill-in position while playing volleyball on the family’s backyard sand court, has blossomed into a Division I opportunity at a major volleyball program for 2009 Ferris graduate Marty Lorenz.

Lorenz has signed to play at Cal State Northridge. The Matadors play in the powerful Mountain Pacific Sports Federation League and this past season were ranked as high as first nationally and finished fourth in the final poll.

Lorenz’s opportunity to play in college came despite little formal volleyball background and the lack of an indoor high school opportunity for males in the Spokane area. Lorenz didn’t formally take up the sport – the beach version – until his sophomore year. Before that he was a basketball player.

“We actually built a sand court in back of the house but it mainly was for my sister (Maddy). I was not interested and only played when they needed one more.”

Area veteran Paul Christiansen, took notice of the 6-foot-6 youngster, took him under his wing, taught him the game, and the two became beach volleyball teammates.

“I can’t count the times Paul served at me getting my reps and drills in,” Lorenz said. “I wouldn’t be where I am right now.”

From there Lorenz began to play indoors in adult recreation leagues, spent two summers in Castlegar, B.C. with a junior team and briefly in Seattle for the Space Needles. Cal State coach Jeff Campbell saw him play for with them at a national Junior Olympics tournament, took an interest in the Spokane athlete and eventually offered him a scholarship.

“For the lack of indoor volleyball I’ve been able to play, it’s funny that I got recruited,” Lorenz said.

He said he had to learn the mechanics of the game, which was difficult for a former basketball player. First came footwork – “without the approach you can’t hit,” – he said. The next hardest thing was setting. “Other than that I caught on so quick,” he said. “The transition from sand to indoors is easy. Once you put on shoes you’re flying and jumping out of the gym.”

Colleges took notice and he chose Cal State Northridge, he said, because of Campbell’s reputation for developing players into All-Americans. There are fewer than 100 colleges, all classifications combined, that offer the indoor sport, Campbell explained, putting Lorenz in rare company.

“What I noticed was his athleticism and jumping ability,” said Campbell. “He was so much more athletic than all the other kids. He was not a great volleyball player, but I’m OK with that. It’s kind of my specialty. We bring in very good athletes and start teaching them from the ground up – passing, hitting and building skills.”

Lorenz doesn’t have to play right away, Campbell said. He can take time to develop as an indoor player.

“How far he can go will depend upon his desire and work ethic and what he wants to get out of volleyball,” Campbell said. “I do expect big things out of him. The sky’s the limit.”

Lorenz and Christiansen play beach volleyball annually at Seaside, Ore. and will tune up for that August event with a couple of others in the sand including in Seattle and at this weekend’s Hot Foot tournament at North Idaho College.

Then it’s on to a new adventure for the budding indoor volleyball neophyte.

Thoughts and opinions on this story? Click here to comment >>

Get stories like this in a free daily email