By John Philip Wyllie
On Tuesday night, some of the county’s best male and female high school volleyball players got together one last time for an all-star game pitting seniors from the South Bay League against those from the Mesa League.
In game one, the Mesa League women swept the South Bay League side in three winning 25-9, 25-12 and 25-22. Among the many stars that evening for the South Bay League was Sweetwater High School’s Guadalupe Gutierrez .
“I started playing at the age of 12 in Tijuana. Later on, my father got a job here (in the U.S.) and I continued playing in the Star League. As a freshman (at Sweetwater High) I made the varsity team. I just completed my fourth year there,” Gutierrez said.
At a diminutive 5’0” and towered over by many of her teammates, the Red Devils captain was perhaps the most unlikely player on the court. Gutierrez however demonstrated once again that good things often arrive in small packages.
“She was the best player this year on Sweetwater’s team so when we played against them I always strategized to keep the ball away from her,” said Bonita Vista coach Dan Neiman who on this occasion was serving as the Mesa League All-Stars coach . “She is a small player, but she plays pretty strong for her size.”
Gutierrez was able to overcome her size disadvantage with experience. She not only played four years of high school volleyball, but also played club volleyball in Tijuana whenever the scholastic season was on hiatus. Gutierrez was honored in her senior year by being named the team captain and was later selected as an all-Mesa League outside hitter.
“Since I arrived as a freshman, one of my dreams was to one day be picked as an all-star,” Gutierrez said. She not only did that, but led her team to lopsided victory as well.
The Red Devils at 10-7 overall and 6-4 in Mesa League competition finished third in the standings behind perennial champion Bonita Vista and 8-2 Eastlake. Reaching the CIF playoffs for the first time in her four-year tenure there, Gutierrez was pleased with the season’s outcome. She expects to continue her career next fall at Southwestern College and she eventually hopes to earn an athletic scholarship to a four-year university. If she does, she will undoubtedly be among the shortest players to ever do so.