MISSION, Texas (ValleyCentral) – Kenisha Martinez’s love for the game of volleyball goes far beyond the court.

The junior outside hitter for Sharyland High School started playing when she was five years old. Martinez fell in love with the sport watching her older sister play.

One thing led to another, and Martinez hopped right in.

“I wanted to play,” Kenisha Martinez, junior outside hitter, said. “So me and my friend started playing. We were 5-year-olds playing with 12-year-olds. From there, my mom got me into tournaments and games.”

Fast forward to 2023, Martinez and the Rattlers lead the way in the Rio Grande Valley. Sharyland sits at the top of District 31-5A, with only one loss of its resume.

The Rattlers record isn’t sheer luck either. This team’s bond is strong. 

“We’re just like a big family inside and outside the court,” Martinez said. “That’s what helps us so much. We believe in each other, and we’re always just encouraging each other to do better.”

Head Coach Raul Castillo led Sharyland to a 44-5 record in 2022. Their season came to an end in the fourth round of the playoffs.

Kenisha was a sophomore at the time, and she’s proven to be an extension of Castillo on the floor.

Castillo said, “What she’s always brought to the table is a knowledge of the game, to have a high IQ and in the sport. It’s a plus. The kid knows exactly what’s going to happen.”

Martinez has over 1,500 career kills and 200 career aces. With another year left in her high school career, Martinez can reach 2,000 kills, an impressive feat few volleyball players reach.

While individual accolades mean a lot to Martinez, those aren’t her priorities. 

“She could care less for them,” Castillo said. “I put them up in the rafters, so she can be an example to all the little ones coming up. She has goals. She wants to go to the Sweet 16 and beyond. She wants to get to there. She wants to take her team there, and I think they have the team to do that.”

With her sights set high for the Rattler program in the postseason, Martinez also soaks up the little, everyday moments with her team.

Volleyball means family to Martinez.

“It’s just happiness, more time I can have with my friends,” Martinez said. “They’ve become my family.”