By John Philip Wyllie
As a key player on Mar Vista High’s league championship volleyball team, opposite hitter Eric Martinez contributed to the Mariners undefeated league season and advancement to the semifinals of the CIF San Diego Section Tournament. Tuesday night, he played his final game as a prep athlete, this time representing the South Bay League All-Stars.
“In the couple of days that I have coached him, I found Eric to be very energetic and a good court leader,” said victorious Hilltop coach, John Gascon, who directed the South Bay League Men’s All-Star team to a 25-7, 25-19, 24-26, 25-22 victory. “Eric is a very positive guy and he would be an asset to any team. Defensively, he surveys the court very well and he is able to predict what the other team will do. He also has great hands. He is one of the best setters in the South Bay. In fact, he could compete with the best setters in San Diego County.”
Martinez grew up initially playing basketball and he represented the Mariners well in that sport before discovering volleyball during his sophomore year.
“I advanced to play varsity level volleyball in my junior year. After my junior year, I progressed to win a starting spot and from there I was chosen to play here,” Martinez explained.
He was honored to be chosen for this final salute to the conference’s graduating seniors and he enjoyed the experience of playing with some athletes that he had previously only played against.
“Everybody came together tonight to play at a high level. I had a lot of fun with it,” he said.
Martinez believes that the mental side of the game played a major role in the Mariners league success and playoff run.
“We were very confident going into every game. Our mentality this whole season was that we could win each and every game,” he said.
The Mariners did just that throughout the regular season. It wasn’t until the semifinals of the CIF championship that they finally stumbled. Martinez played multiple roles at Mar Vista.
“I was the opposite and the back-up setter, so I needed to be ready in case they needed a setter,” he said. “I ended up playing both sides, hitting the ball and setting.”
Martinez was recognized with an All-League Honorable Mention Award at season’s end.
“He definitely has the ability to play at a higher level, so I am looking forward to seeing Eric play in the future in college,” Coach Gascon said.
Martinez will begin his collegiate career in the fall at Grossmont College. He eventually hopes to transfer to a four-year university.