You could firmly state that Vernon Hills right side hitter Martin Niemczewski was groomed to play volleyball from a young age.
He was at those girls volleyball games at Vernon Hills when his older sisters Aja and Dorota were smashing volleyballs.
Even when he was in still in grade school, he could see what volleyball did for his sisters. Aja took her skills to Marquette University. Dorota played her college volleyball at Boston College and even tried a year of professional volleyball.
Older sister Aja, 11 years Martin's senior, lives in Poland now.
But like his much older sisters, Niemczewski made his name known on the volleyball courts.
"I had to choose between soccer and volleyball," Niemczewski said. "Volleyball came easier to me."
And now he's off to play college volleyball at Ball State University. He's headed to Indiana with both an athletic and academic scholarship.
In two seasons with the Cougars volleyball team, Niemczewski took part in 67 victories.
"Can you honestly name me a better player in the area this year than Martin Niemczewski?'' asked Vernon Hills volleyball coach Chris Curry. "He had ferocious kills even though he was double- and triple-teamed all year."
Niemczewski is the Daily Herald's honorary captain of the 2012 Lake County boys volleyball all-area team. A year ago, he played on a team that finished third in the state.
"That was great,'' Niemczewski said. "That was a lot of fun. We had all played club together and I knew we had a good team."
Niemczewski made the freshman A team and also played soccer that year. The following season, he played sophomore ball and earned a promotion to the varsity in the playoffs.
He's been a reliable starter since his junior year.
"No one we've had has ever worked harder to make himself a great player,'' Curry said. "He's tall (6-5) sure, but the effort he put into defense every day in practice was outstanding. He's a great example of one of your best players being one of your hardest workers."
Curry noted Niemczewski made up for lost time on the varsity. He's in the Vernon Hills record book for most kills in a two-year span (560). Also for the highest career efficiency for a multi-year varsity player.
"He was a role model of effort for every kid in the program.,'' Curry said. "We challenged him to improve his blocking, and he did. We needed defense from his side of the court, and he gave it. And he's a great kid. What else can you ask for?
It seems the hard work he put at the Pipeline Club has paid off.
"I worked on everything,'' he said. "I did a lot of blocking and hitting."
Following the state run last year, the Cougars had a strong start this season as well. And then Vernon Hills fell in the regional to upstart Zion-Benton.
"That was rough,'' he said. "We played a bad game and Zion played a great game. We kind of fell apart. I thought we had a shot at the sectional final."
Still, the ride at Vernon Hills was very positive for this slugger.
"I had a lot of great experiences,'' he said. "I got to play with everyone and the coaches were great."
At Ball State, he will major in construction management.