By John Philip Wyllie
Hilltop’s South Bay League All-Star middle blocker Martin Rodriguez played a major role in the Lancers success this season on the volleyball court. After finishing the league season in second place behind Otay Ranch, Rodriguez led the Lancers to a 19-11 record and the semifinals of the CIF San Diego Section Division II Tournament. They fell on Saturday to top-seeded Scripps Ranch 16-25, 25-15, 22-25, 14-25, but battled the Falcons every step of the way.
“Martin has been very focused this year and has been a daily contributor. He was one of our leading blockers and finished the season third on the team in kills. Martin also served as one of our captains. He was very aggressive on the court, but also very level-headed. When things were (veering) out of control he could bring everyone together, calm them down and get them focused,” said Hilltop coach, John Gascon.
“I’ve played football, basketball and baseball, but nothing compares to this,” Rodriguez said, taking a break from a recent practice. “I liked the family atmosphere present on this team. I really enjoyed hanging out with my “brothers” on this team and my coach. We fell short of the “Super Bowl” losing to Scripps Ranch in the semifinals and that was a bummer, but we won our league three years in a row and finished second this year, so we’ve had a good run.”
The son of Mexican immigrants, Rodriguez is making the most of the opportunities that living in this country provides. Although he will be graduating next month, Rodriguez expects to continue playing the sport that he has come to love.
“I really hope to play somewhere, even if it is at a junior college. I really enjoy the sport and I want to stick with it.”
A solid student with a G.P.A currently hovering around 3.2, Rodriguez is not sure what he would like to pursue in college, but medicine, law enforcement and business are all strong possibilities. He is more certain about his adopted sport. Having by process of elimination discovered the excitement of playing competitive volleyball, he expects to make it a life-long interest.