By John Philip Wyllie
Having dominated South Bay women’s volleyball for most of the last decade, the Bonita Vista Barons appear stronger than ever in 2007. After posting some impressive results against non-league tournament opponents, the Barons have settled into their Mesa League season vanquishing one side after another. Based upon decisive victories over Eastlake, Otay Ranch, Chula Vista and Mater Dei, the Barons appear to be headed toward another league banner. At the heart of their success this season is a potent offense led by setter, Lailanie Gonzalez as well as veteran leadership throughout the team.
“Lailanie has been a team player over the last few years and has demonstrated a lot of determination and drive to become a good all-around player. Her ability to lead has definitely blossomed this year now that she is comfortable in her role as our starting setter.
For Gonzalez, volleyball has always been a family sport.
“Both my mom and dad played when they were younger. In fact, my dad got a college scholarship to play in Monterrey (Mexico),” Gon-zalez said prior to Tuesday’s practice. “I started playing (competitive) volleyball when I started here as a freshman. Looking back, I wish I had started earlier.”
Despite her late start, Gonzalez has developed into one of the league’s premier setters. She plays a critical role on the team, a role that is similar to what a quarterback does on a gridiron.
“As the setter, you run the offense. It is important for me to keep my head up all the time because most of the game is mental. I need to know where my teammates are supposed to be, but also I need to help them keep their heads in the game, keep them happy and get them going.”
The tradition of volleyball excellence at Bonita Vista High has become somewhat of a double-edged sword. Mesa League opponents have to become demoralized playing a team that almost never concedes league games let alone match victories. On the other hand, there is more than a little pressure to maintain this tradition of league dominance.
“I think it has been ten years since we lost a league game, so we have to win. There is a lot of pressure and it would be so bad if we ever lost a league game.”
The Barons goals go beyond another league championship.
“Our goal last year was to pass through to the second round of the CIF tournament. It had been six years since we had done that, but we did it last year. This year, we are hoping to win a CIF championship. If we keep our heads in it and all want it badly enough I think we can do it.”
“At 5’4” Gonzalez probably lacks the height desirable to most college recruiters, so this might be her final season of competitive volleyball. In college, she hopes to pursue a degree in nursing or in sports related physical therapy.
Over the years, Gonzalez has performed as well in the classroom as she has on the volleyball court. Considering that she spoke no English when she arrived here from Mexico about a dozen years ago, she has done very well indeed.